Virtual Reality as a Pathway to Learning

“Sharing knowledge is a lovely thing.”Jamie Oliver

In my previous post, I outlined how technologies like virtual reality, especially for Gen Z students, provides avenues that allow them to engage in a social, collaborative, and active learning environment.

The theory of constructivist-based learning is even more powerful when placed in a social and immersive and spatial context like that provided by virtual reality.

Under this new “digital pedagogy” learners tend to construct knowledge via self-directed and collaborative project based learning (PBL) activities, forming social learning communities, and technologies such as Oculus Rift headsets and virtual reality platforms like MissionV and Google Expeditions.

As students go through process of choosing, utilizing, and integrating technology into their projects, it provides opportunities for them to be actively engaged, as well as acquire, share, and make use of community knowledge and showcase their skill sets and contributions.

“What it [VR] offers as a tool for creating worlds and experimenting with some of the ideas underpinning logic and programming that make it exciting — together with the incredible community of users and their creations.” -Tom Chatfield

In addition, collaborative and interactive projects undertaken in a community structure allow students to interact with other members of the class, identify who has a particular skill or expertise they want to acquire, and provides opportunities for them to model and scaffold this knowledge with their peers.

Constructing the Future of Virtual Reality Learning

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In an evaluation report on the MissionV Schools Pilot Programme in Ireland, Dr. Conor Galvin, a professor at University College School of Education, found that the use of virtual reality technology in the classroom showed real benefit in tackling students’ social issues.

For example, Galvin points out that the students struggling to being included in their classroom, were able to become accepted by their peers because of their technology skills.

Integrating the virtual reality project into the curriculum allowed for shy students ‘come out of their shells’ and boost confidence in students who were previously lacking in confidence in their maths skills.

Exploring Virtual Learning in the Classroom

One thing is clear, as Gen Z move from the classroom to the workforce, it will be increasingly important to deepen our understanding of these burgeoning digital learning styles and prepare educational and training programs (online and off) to meet their learning styles.

If the future for education is going to involve virtual reality, how exactly can virtual reality technology make an impact on the learning process? While in many ways we are just getting started using VR in the classroom, the future is here and it will be exciting to see where it takes us!

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