The education sector, like many others, has been hugely impacted owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not that it wasn’t familiar to disruption. Homeschooling, online degree programs, virtual classrooms have all been progressive steps in the direction of transformative technological innovation. But with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) coming into the picture, things have changed radically for the education sector.
We are now talking about some really innovative stuff – the kind that makes learning engaging and interactive, that takes students beyond the realms of their classrooms to explore new dimensions in learning and comprehension.
We are treading into an era of experiential learning driven by AR/VR.
The research by MarketsandMarkets suggests that the global EdTech and smart classroom market is growing at a CAGR of 16.1% from USD 85,818 million in 2020 to USD 181,265 million by 2025. It’s not surprising then to find technology dominates every sphere of learning and education.
Morehouse College, the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr., is now conducting three classes in VR powered by the Engage-based Victory XR platform. Having created more than 240 VR & AR experiences covering more than fifty different learning units for diverse subjects, the college has created a digitized campus where everyone can connect and collaborate.
Opines Dushunte Carmon, the project’s chief advocate within Morehouse College, “With the increasing amount of technology that is occurring in education, people have to learn and teach in a different way, they have to be innovative. The discovery of Victory XR was the dimension I had been looking to add to Morehouse College for the last two years. This is a game-changer not only for Morehouse College but for colleges and universities around the world.”
The New Normal has compelled colleges and universities to reach out to students albeit remotely. AR and VR have come to their rescue opening new avenues for a more engaging distance learning experience. In tandem with Artificial Intelligence (AI), they promise a hyper-immersive learning experience that puts experiential learning at the fore of things. Modern students are now relying on a digital ecosystem that will continue to thrive with time. As transformative teaching technologies continue to power learning experiences across the globe, here’s how the contemporary education landscape looks like.
Learning without borders
Following a partnership between Almo Professional A/V and ARHT Media Inc., a Toronto-based holographic solutions developer, we now have pioneering technology that enables high-quality, low-latency AV streaming with end-to-end encryption. Imagine what this could do in the field of education. Viewers can now attend lectures remotely without wearing 3D glasses to see lecturers right in front of them as live holograms.
Ideal for conference halls, corporate boardrooms, and large training centers, this plug-and-play cabinet on wheels dubbed as the HoloPod is helping universities transcend borders. So guest lecturers from anywhere in the world can now pop up right in front of you and deliver a truly interactive, engaging experience.
A lot more than a laptop
San Jose-based zSpace is breaking barriers between users and computers through their innovative laptops that offer a multidimensional AR/VR environment. With 3-D technology at its helm, it offers immersive experiences with 3D content popping out of the screen. It functions as an all-in-one PC and allows users to enjoy learning experiences from wherever they are with the help of head tracking and lightweight glasses.
Every time students tilt their heads to view something, the software is quick to take notes and tweak the perspective accordingly. What students get is real-time exposure to scenarios that they would have never had a chance to experience otherwise. For instance, those learning automotive technology gravitated to learning beyond regular lessons diving further into motors, transmissions, and other related stuff.
Closing the gap in distance learning
Students often lose their interest and focus during distance learning due to a lack of interaction. The beauty of VR is that it allows just about everybody to enjoy learning in simulated settings, no matter how complex their subject is. The University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) enables its students to use VR to simulate real-life surgery while the students at Averett University in Danville, Virginia are ‘virtually’ exploring the inner workings of the human body going all the way to the cellular level. This kind of distance learning also eliminates errors allowing students to focus on the finer details of the human anatomy. AR, on the other hand, enhances every possible subject from STEM to humanities.
Colleges are now also offering campus tours virtually giving students the feel of physically being there without actually having to travel. Without the distance, students feel less inhibited and are enthusiastically taking up language and culture classes while eavesdropping on conversations in a foreign café emulating native speakers.
Improving learning outcomes with AI
As machine learning tools and techniques enter the scene, educational applications are gearing up for new breakthroughs. Researchers are now using advanced image recognition to detect aggressive forms of cancer while others are using AI teaching assistants and voice-enabled assistants like Alexa to help students with answers to frequently asked questions.
AI has also been helping organizations worldwide produce smart, personalized content. It has opened up new avenues to students with learning disabilities and special needs. By creating a more inclusive environment, AR, VR, and AI have changed the dynamics for learning and education.
Can we make AR/VR mainstream?
AR/VR undoubtedly has a lot to offer to the field of education. It is however important to have the right infrastructure. Adequate wireless network capacity, computers with the necessary computing power, and devices that enable immersive technologies are some of the prerequisites to getting started on an AR and VR-enabled learning journey. Hi-quality sensors, cameras, smartphones, headsets, glasses, etc. are needed to experience and enjoy learning in the true sense.
Clearly, there are several challenges on the road to AR/VR-driven learning. Educational technologies come with a price and at times it can be a bit overwhelming to get the best in EdTech. Late adopters may have to grapple with fundraising and may have to look for investors. There has to be enough quality content too that can be rolled out through the right distribution channels. Also, it will take a while for educators, administrators, and students to get used to diverse formats and platforms.
Institutions are contemplating crowdsourcing VR experiments and experiences in a bid to increase adoption and allow access through libraries, technology hubs, etc. No doubt, transformative technologies like AR/VR are going to be a tad expensive, to begin with, but the benefits are far too many to ignore and universities across the world will adopt them sooner than later.
Teach with Trigent
AR/VR can resolve the challenges in learning born in the wake of the New Normal. At Trigent, we help educational institutes and decision-makers tide over challenges in adopting transformative teaching technologies with the right tools, solutions, and data-driven processes. We can help you improve efficiencies to build the perfect ecosystem to make learning collaborative, impactful, and seamless across geographies.