Virtual reality technology has experienced a surge of activity in recent years and has become a staple in the homes of gaming enthusiasts. However, gaming is only one of the many applications of VR. With the right software and planning, virtual reality can be a powerful educational technology that can enhance education and training courses to present a robust learning experience. This post will examine five reasons to use virtual reality in education and training courses and discuss how VR technology can elevate educational content to an engaging and versatile experience.
One of the most appealing reasons to use virtual reality in education and training courses is engagement. Gaining an audience’s attention and interest is one of the most challenging tasks facing an educator or trainer, especially when the educational content may not be particularly flashy. Putting on a headset and being somewhere else entirely is novel and exciting, especially if the user does not regularly engage with the technology. The wow factor of moving and existing in a virtual space can break barriers to engagement that instructors often face in education and training courses.
Beyond novelty, the immersive nature of virtual reality can elevate educational content to a level in which the user becomes absorbed and maintains interest and engagement. With the outside world’s distractions filtered out by existing in a virtual space, the learner is more likely to direct their focus and energy toward the learning experience. The degree to which the user becomes engrossed in the educational content depends, of course, on the content and presentation itself. Still, it is undeniable that for most people, a virtual world or augmented reality will hold their attention longer than a standard slide show presentation.
Students/staff can learn from anywhere in the world
Geographical constraints are often a critical deciding factor in whether or not an individual seeks out educational and training opportunities. The proposed educational content may pique one’s interest, but if it is not in their vicinity, then they may write off the concept entirely. If this training is mandatory or heavily incentivized for them, distance still poses problems and reduces the instructional material’s impact. Sure, travel can be fun, but the idea of attending training sessions the morning after spending hours on a plane or in an airport can sap the energy and motivation of even the most enthusiastic learner.
The geographic limitations of in-person learning feed into one of the key reasons to use virtual reality in education and training courses. With virtual reality technology, training can take place anywhere there is wifi, a virtual reality headset, and enough space to move around safely. This opens up training to more people and saves companies money for airfare and hotels.
The new push toward remote work further highlights the advantages of virtual reality in education. The physicality of VR team-building exercises outstrips anything a video conference call can provide. A study investigating virtual simulation for nursing students found that VR team-building exercises built interpersonal skills to the same degree as in-person training. Since this is the case, it follows that the teams spread across vast distances can benefit from an experience comparable to spending time around one another in person.
Can help reduce language barriers
Language barriers can hamper the effectiveness of even the best-designed educational content. One cannot learn what they cannot understand. It is crucial to open up educational and training courses to the broadest audience to ensure learners of all backgrounds can benefit from a learning experience. VR in education offers a way to sidestep many of the difficulties brought by language barriers.
The most obvious benefit is that educational content can be translated into different languages so the learner can understand the topic. It goes further than this, however. Having the learner experience the content in their own language and on their own terms can boost confidence, as it can be awkward to struggle with understanding in front of other learners. This leads some to sacrifice their learning for their comfort or to not inconvenience those around them. This also benefits those who are more distractible in-person by pauses in the flow of instruction, as necessary as they may be.
VR technology also benefits from advances in on-the-fly translation services like those offered by Google. Sure, these services are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but software that could display a rough translation of what a learner is saying in front of them as they speak can at least foster the beginnings of understanding. This idea of “virtual closed captioning” can also aid learners who are hard of hearing.
VR Simulations allow for any type of scenario to be recreated
One of the most important reasons to use virtual reality in education and training courses is that it isn’t held back by the constraints of physical reality. Anything is possible in VR as long as someone can program it. This means that no matter how practical or abstract the concept is, a simulation can help communicate it in ways that in-person learning cannot match. As it currently stands, it is impractical to take students to the bottom of the Marianas Trench or the surface of the sun, but that is not the case with VR. For virtual simulations in nursing education and other kinds of medical training, VR allows users to train for uncommon scenarios for which physical simulations are unavailable. This could be especially useful in situations where new medical challenges emerge faster than physical simulations can be constructed. Virtual reality can also present scenarios that border on the fantastic or surreal in ways that in-person learning can’t match.
It can help to reduce costs
Ten years ago, VR technology was only beginning to emerge into consumer markets, and the steep cost of these prototypes made VR in education a pipedream. Much has changed since then. VR headsets can be purchased in the neighborhood of $300-400 dollars, and these new standalone units no longer require an expensive gaming computer to operate. On the surface, this is still not cheap but consider in-person alternatives. Education and training courses require space, and space is not free. If learners must travel to a location, either the learner or the person sponsoring this learning experience must pay for travel expenses like airfare, lodging, and food. With VR, an educator can either use existing office space or send the learner home with an all-in-one headset that costs less than the price of a plane ticket. In medical education, virtual simulation for nursing students presents a great financial benefit, as the cost of a single mannikin may dwarf that of a VR headset. Finally, these devices have longevity if taken care of, becoming an investment that will pay dividends for years to come.
These are just some of the many reasons to use virtual reality in education and training courses. VR technology is still a growing field, so the opportunities for educational content are limitless. Still, VR training is only as good as the educational content that it provides. SimX provides top-notch content that can be adapted to the needs of any medical instructor. New cases are always being added to the Case Marketplace, and if you can’t find a scenario you are looking for, the SimX team can design it for you. There are even free cases to try to see if the format works for your needs. SimX works with all major standalone or tethered VR headsets, so users can pick the headset that matches their needs, not the software’s. The future of VR in education is promising, and those that take advantage of its many benefits now will be ahead of the curve as it becomes integrated into the classroom, the boardroom, and the clinic.