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Virtual Reality In Education In Australia – The Uses And Effectiveness Of VR For Learning

VR educational experiences represent a truly remarkable moment in learning methodology. A virtual reality headset is not just a new screen to get lost in, it is a highly effective new tool for learning in a brand new era of teaching. In short, it is an educational revelation. At Team Creative, we are evangelists for promoting the power of virtual reality to positively impact a student’s education.

Virtual reality technology for education is prompting teachers to ask questions about how students of any age learn best. To answer this, it is worth understanding the ways people learn.

The benefits of virtual reality for education

Learning preferences

While they are not used exclusively, rather in combination with strong preferences according to the individual, there are four core ways in which people prefer to learn:

  1. Visual (seeing / watching)
  2. Auditory (hearing / listening)
  3. Documenting (reading / writing)
  4. Kinesthetic (touch / doing / feeling)

The power behind VR technology is that it can combine all of these methods of learning at once in a physical space, which can also be customised to suit the needs of any specific learner. The learner experiences real (physical) kinesthetic learning in an environment the mind accepts as a physical space, leading to what we call ‘full body memories’. This physicality of VR also allows students to grab items, manipulate size and scale and highlight specific parts of what they are studying such as human anatomy, maths or spelling. With the completion of a task in a gamified educational experience, the learner also experiences internal kinesthetic learning through feel-good, positive feelings of achievement. The feeling of achievement through virtual reality education game reward methods is a very strong motivating factor that encourages the student to keep learning.

In these ways, VR in education is making a very positive change in the way children and all others learn, from first person experiences leaving a deeper imprint on memory to the opportunity to understand basic principles of any subject or thing before learning the ‘why’.

Uses of VR in career exploration and work experience

As an educational pathway tool, VR is a game-changing breakthrough for careers guidance. With its ability to take a student anywhere and get them doing anything, VR gives students an opportunity to experience a huge range of possibilities in both current and future workplaces. When Team Creative works with Melbourne (Australia) virtual reality education and careers innovator MindFlight7, we are giving students insight into a wide range of  career paths through all kinds of VR careers and training experiences, providing a fast track for career discovery that is impossible in the real world.

Students might participate in a day in the life of a surgeon or a space engineer on the International Space Station. They might study the geology of a Glacier in Iceland or spot African animals in a survey in the Savanna. They could enter a chemistry lab and work with dangerous chemicals without the safety issues that would bring if they were to do that in real life or they could learn to work with heavy machinery – all from the safety of the classroom!

The power of VR education programs for neuro-diverse, at risk and disengaged students

VR can be especially helpful for neuro-diverse or those students who do not respond to more conventional or traditional teaching methods. Studies going as far back as 2007 (Strickland et al.) showed that children with autism could apply skills they learned from a road safety program in a virtual environment to the real world. This same technology is now being utilised in schools to create an identical impact in a child’s education through engaging with a part of their brain or their representational systems that hadn’t been engaged with previous methods. Along with this, there is a personal sense of security with VR learning. The student feels private and safe in a virtual world, comfortable to try and fail without judgement, to then keep trying, and then to effectively learn from their eventual success.

The overarching goal here is to adapt education to suit learning needs. No one child, student, or adult thinks the same and by utilising experts on VR for learning in Melbourne like us at Team Creative, we can help shape better, more effective educational experiences and accelerate learning for all. Talk to us today about your educational VR development needs.

Frequently Asked Questions: Virtual Reality Technology For Education

1. Virtual reality has tremendous power to engage students in several ways. These include:

Gamification: the roots of modern VR are in gaming and as such, recent educational VR experiences have been greatly influenced by the gaming world. Many VR experiences for learning have aspects of games that help to increase their engagement levels and encourage repeated use. Concepts such as ‘moving up a level’, time limits, game lives, game rewards and multiplayer versions are being used successfully to enhance engagement and promote unconscious learning.

Field Trips: Students can travel all over the world from their classrooms with VR. This has major cost and time benefits of course, but the feeling of awe when experiencing a fascinating place and its surroundings in VR is similar to the real thing, given that virtual reality provides a full, immersive physical experience.

Conceptual journeys: It is sometimes difficult for students to grasp abstract concepts, especially in maths and science. On top of this, the explanation of the concept using traditional means such as a whiteboard, books or discussion can leave students disengaged and lost. VR allows an idea or concept to become a place. In VR, geometry can be brought to life as physical objects that a student can manipulate or a body can be entered via arteries, veins and capillaries and the differences between them can be felt physically as each becomes smaller and more confined, with a different use. Suddenly a diagram about the body in a biology textbook is a place being explored. The engagement level is instantly higher for all students.

Career Inspiration: Companies such as the Australian VR education and careers trailblazer, MindFlight7, are using VR technology to help inspire students to think about subject pathways and careers they may not have yet considered. Career exploration in VR can take a student to any workplace including dangerous sites, high security zones, places that are physically or financially difficult to access or that would normally require rigorous training and qualifications before entry.

2. Is VR effective for all types of learners?

Yes! That is not the only secret to its success as a learning tool but it’s a big part of it. There are four ways in which people learn with and different people have different learning preferences including: Visual, Auditory, Documenting and Kinesthetic. Virtual reality has the ability to connect all four learning methods at once, so no matter the learning preference of a person, they will be engaged in the way they prefer.  The ability to combine these learning methods, creates the potential for a customisable learning program for a student with any range of learning needs.

3. Is there an age limit for VR learning?

Aside from the very young, we would say ‘No’. Learning in VR is an accessible form of learning for all ages with any education background. VR technology allows people of all ages and from all backgrounds to develop their skills or learn any educational concept in a safe and interactive environment. We have seen no evidence of any adverse effects on young children or their developing neurology. One of the only limitations our VR education and career guidance innovation client, Mindflight7 has experienced after working with over 23,000 student participants is the smaller size of younger students’ heads (Year 2 and under) that make it difficult for them to wear a VR headset.

4. Why Should I Consider A Gamification Approach To My Learning?

In a nutshell: because it creates much stronger learning outcomes.

It may surprise you that many of the foundations of educational VR are in the gaming community and clever game techniques that keep a player playing longer, having fun and being engaged are now being used commonly in educational VR experiences. Game developers turned their knowledge of gaming, game devices and VR immersion to the area of education, realising they could create breakthrough learning programs through VR technology, and engage any students’ brain in ways traditional teaching methods could not. When you add things like hidden surprises or task related rewards you’re adding a layer of fun and challenge to the experience. When you have a time limit to achieve a goal or you create satisfaction when a participant in an interactive VR educational experience moves up to a new, higher level, you are creating a positive feedback loop where the participant feels good and wants to continue to make breakthroughs to experience the same feeling. Using gamification in educational VR programs is highly effective for learning and it just makes sense!

5. Where can I find and download VR educational content?

To look for, discover and download virtual reality education programs you can try heading to the Meta Quest Store. You will find some quality educational content there, but VR educational content development has a long way to go in order to cover the huge expanse of teaching and learning areas. You might also search for specific suppliers of VR educational content if you are looking in a particular educational area. An of course, you might want to create new VR educational content. In that case, you would look to contact an educational VR content development agency like Team Creative in Melbourne. As mentioned, while there is educational content in VR, AR and MR, it is a mere drop in the ocean at the moment.  With more VR developers learning their trade we can expect to see a wider range of better, even more effective and evolved VR learning content in the future.

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