Since we are living in the era of technological revolution, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Virtual Reality (VR for short) has become the most popular buzzword in the eLearning domain. VR is described as the next big thing, especially in terms of online learning and corporate training. That is why everyone should have an insight into what VR represents, how it can be used, what benefits it brings, and what importance it holds. We will provide you with some basic but important info about VR and how it will impact our lives in the near future!
Table of Contents
What’s Virtual Reality?
VR has been around in various forms for a few years now. The term itself refers to a deeply engaging experience of a world which basically doesn’t exist. It can be understood as “near reality”. According to the definition, it is “An artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment.”
While the real world is perceived through our senses, Virtual Reality is designed to give us a representation of a completely new world – a three-dimensional computer-generated environment – which we can interact with and explore.
When we are learning something the old-fashioned way, we can manipulate objects and carry out different actions. On the other hand, VR presents a virtual environment to our senses in a way that we can really experience it as if it was completely real.
VR combines different technologies to achieve a completely immersive experience with the goal to be used as an effective tool in online learning.
The concept of virtual reality was first introduced in by Stanley G. Weinbaum in 1935, in his story called “Pygmalion’s Glasses”, but the term still didn’t exist at that time. In 1960s, VR advanced with the first head-mounted display. In 1965 Ivan Sutherland designed the Ultimate Display – it could stimulate reality so well that it was hard for people at the time to determine what’s real and what’s not. Since then, VR has continued to develop rapidly up to the point where it has now become the key tool for online learning and corporate training.
Virtual Reality in eLearning
VR enables learners to have a direct interaction with their learning materials. Such a revolutionary approach significantly increases the motivation to learn and the engagement factor, and it is appealing for a wide range of learners, regardless of their age or occupation.
VR introduces new learning environments and lets learners examine and evaluate their actions and procedures and prepare them for situations and experiences they are unlikely to encounter in real life. Furthermore, it gives learners the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes and come up with the right method by having the freedom to try repeatedly. You can introduce VR within the LMS and reap a few impeccable benefits. Let’s take a look.
The Benefits of Using Virtual Reality in eLearning
- It offers a visual approach – According to numerous studies, people retain what they have read better when they are able to see it or experience it somehow. VR in eLearning makes this possible and creates a completely new visual experience to improve learners’ retention capacity and their understanding of the material.
- It lowers the risk factor – VR in eLearning can simulate dangerous and risky situations in an environment that is controllable, so that it removes the risk factor usually associated with such situations. This lets learners alleviate their fear of making a mistake.
- It facilitates complex data – Like the visual approach, when learners can really experience complex situations, they are more likely to handle them with ease. VR simplifies the complexity of those situations, allowing learners to actually experience everything themselves, rather than just reading about it.
- It offers remote access – VR in eLearning doesn’t require an actual classroom so that learning can be conducted remotely, which can help you save a lot of time and money that would normally have to be spent on planning a complete learning program.
- It provides real-life scenarios – As mentioned, one of the greatest things about VR in the context of eLearning is that it allows learners to really immerse themselves in various virtual scenarios. For instance, if the learning program involves some real situation that a certain business has faced before, an employee will be able to handle such a situation more efficiently after experiencing it virtually.
- It is fun and innovative – People love to try out new things. VR offers a completely innovative and interactive approach to learning and makes learning become an entertaining, rather than an everyday dull process.
All these benefits are the reason Virtual Reality can make a world of difference in eLearning and take education to a whole new level. When it comes to technology, education is pretty much the same as any business or field of activity – you can save a lot of time and money by utilizing digital strategies, and that is where eLearning authoring tools come into play.
Implementing the best eLearning authoring tools in your learning program can have the power to transform the way learners acquire new skills and knowledge, and it will drastically shorten the learning curve, making the learning process both highly effective and enjoyable.
Let VR Guide Your eLearning Initiatives
To conclude, Virtual Reality is the technology that will enable eLearning to advance even further in the future. It will facilitate learning processes in numerous ways and contribute to the advancement of different industries and services by enabling learners to experience real-life scenarios in a virtual world.
Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & eLearning authoring tools – currently associated with ProProfs.
This is a great vision but there are two reasons this will never fly in mainstream education.
1. Cost of hardware is always high due to constantly evolving development.
2. Need for advanced software development of each new learning experience.
There is no money for this in education as it stands today.
Virtual Reality (VR) is transforming eLearning, no doubt; however, there is always a danger if the author describes only the benefits and the excitements of the technology without paying attention to its limitations.
I want to describe one limitation: VR should not be used for learning a foreign language. Here is why. Consider the fact; the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text. And it’s more accustomed to processing images—ninety percent of the information sent to the brain is visual, and 93% of all human communication is visual. The human brain has always processed images ridiculously faster than words, so . . . in competition between the visuals and words, visuals always win and there is not a chance that the learner will actively remember words presented in VR. Especially taking into account that you could use the VR apps for hours with your mouth shut simply selecting the suggested choices. The voice recognition option is often considered as stressful and disabled for this reason.
Some studies published in British Journal of Educational Technology in 2009 were showing that learning in VR was not enhanced and that the technology became a distraction rather than an enabler.
Due to VR nature, it could be adapted for learning words and phrases in a foreign language but it could not be used for working with a sequence of texts following the life experience of main characters. Knowing 3,000 words of English taught over 54 adventures does not mean that the learner would be able to communicate in English because adults are thinking in their native language and knowledge of 3000 words as translations into the native language would not allow the learner to speak fluent English.