Students using virtual reality in classroom while learning and exploring using Oculus VR headsets

How to Use Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Continual advancements in technology give students an ever-growing edge when it comes to in class and out of class learning. With the creation of new and engaging apps many teachers at all grade levels are able to expand education out of traditional books and programs and give students a more in-depth educational experience. Additionally, using technology such as VR (virtual reality) in the classroom can also can greatly enhance learning on many levels.

Why Use Virtual Reality in the Classroom?

Virtual reality can be used to create an entirely different world. It enhances real life experiences and makes learning more exciting for students. Students spend so much time on phones, tablets and video games that they can easily become bored with standard textbooks (Unless of course your playing VR games on your iPhone). Technology is paving the way for how learning and work will be done. Utilizing VR keeps students engaged throughout their classroom time and gives them something to look forward to.  Schools are one of the best examples of how Virtual Reality technology can be used in the real world.

What Types Of Schools Can Utilize VR?

Elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and even universities can utilize VR in curriculums. Students of all ages can benefit from experiencing things in a more hands on way. Virtual reality can enhance learning and bring field trips directly to the classroom.

How Can VR Be Used In The Class Room?

Teachers that want to give a more dimensional approach to studies can incorporate VR into their lesson plans. The traditional teaching methods can still be utilized in conjunction with books and computer programs and the VR can be added to help give further understanding to the lessons.

Which Subjects Does Virtual Reality Work Best With?

Science, history and geography are some of the to subjects that would greatly benefit from VR but other classes such as home economics and even literature can benefit from incorporating this thee dimensional approach to learning. Could you imagine participating in a cooking class and then joining a VR lesson where it appears as though you are in the kitchen and everything is right in front of you?

The same is true for geography. Students can gain a better understanding of regions across the world when they are able to see them in 3D. Molecules, atoms and microbes look fascinating in a book and on a computer program but they also look amazing when they are hovering in the air around students who are studying them virtually. Although there are many who believe there are health side effects with using virtual reality, the use of this technology in a school setting seem to far outweigh any perceived negative benefit.

Travel The World Without Boarding A School Bus

Students have visited zoos, museums, state capitals and state parks but the have not hiked mount Everest or gone diving off the great barrier reef. Virtual Reality brings these world wide travel destinations into the classroom for students to experience without ever having to get on a school bus. Teachers are able to bring these experiences into their rooms and then incorporate the experiences into their lessons to go over tides, currents, hemispheres, altitudes, wildlife and topography. The sky is literally the limit when it comes to the fantastic places that teachers can take their students via VR.

VR Can Benefit Elementary Schools

Virtual reality is ideal for kids in kindergarten through 5th grade. This is the prime age for kids to teach them tech and make learning exciting. When students are excited about learning they are in turn, excited to attend school. Establishing this desire to learn at a young age will keep kids looking forward to school long into middle school and high school.

Students typically want to go attend school in order to make friends and enjoy the fun special classes such as art, music and gym class. It is not often that a fourth grader will say they are looking forward to attending school because of science class. When that science class is engaging and utilizing VR that student’s perspective may change. Many students are excited to try the new technology by using VR in the classroom, and have science literally at their fingertips digitally.

Early elementary students in kindergarten through second grade live in a state of mind that involves a lot of imagination and play. This age group does well during recess and play time and they typically respond much better to fun cartoon style educational clips and applications that appear as games with reward systems.

When VR in the classroom is incorporated into students within this age bracket they can go to the zoo, build a home or plant flowers all virtually. This gives them more room to enhance their imagination while exploring education.

VR In Middle School

6th to 8th grade students often get lost in the chaos of junior high. They focus on shuffling from classroom to classroom and are not as engaged in education as younger students. They don’t spend as much time exploring their imaginations and rather turn to technology such as smart phones for their entertainment.

Virtual reality helps keep them focused on their classes and gives them something to look forward to in class. English literature can be brought to life via VR. Charles Dickens classics can be presented in 3D imagery to better help students understand the era of the classics and the characters.

Learning the Constitution and early history can also be more entertaining when students can feel as though they are standing right in the middle of the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the Revolutionary war. It makes the entire learning experience more personal and memorable.

Complex Concepts Made Easier In High School

High school students exploring advanced placement classes and learning complex concepts will have an easier grasp on what they are learning when they can experience it through virtual reality. Additionally, students taking advanced computer classes and web development will especially enjoy diving deeper into the technology offered via VR.

How Can Teachers Set Up VR?

Depending on the program used to work with the virtual reality in the classroom, teachers can easily set up whatever lesson plan they want. In many cases the virtual experience can be added and edited directly from the educators phone or tablet. They are in complete control over what content the students will learn about and experience.

Some programs can cost more than others but many offer teacher discounts that can be applied. The lessons can be set up for a specific allotted amount of time so that students can work collaboratively within a group and then study based off of the VR experience they participated in. The bottom line is that teachers can easily use VR in the classroom if they prepare in advance.

Virtual Reality For Teachers

Virtual reality can be used in more aspects than just education within the classroom. Teachers participating in continuing education hours and in service days can go over many work scenarios via VR as well. Administration has the opportunity to further educate staff on training and student relations by creating virtual reality and augmented reality sessions where teachers can interact with scenarios. The reactions or actions of the faculty through these simulated situations can help administrators better educate their staff on how to handle specific situations that may occur.

Types Of Scenarios Teachers May Have Simulated Via VR

  • Soft lock down drills
  • Lock down drills
  • Fire drills
  • Tornado drills
  • Active shooter drills
  • Student outbursts
  • Parent conferences
  • Co-worker conflicts

Today’s teachers face a wide variety of concerns on a daily basis. They cannot simply focus on education and their students. There are many outside factors that can cause interruptions in their day to day lessons. Learning how to handle these situations will help prepare them in the event that they arise. Incorporating these situations as VR experiences during training will give the staff a chance to walk through and talk through all of these potential disruptions.

Virtual Reality Paves The Way

Now that students are spending more time learning at home parents are also jumping on the VR bandwagon. Online tech providers have different types of virtual reality programs that can be utilized for home school purposes. Those e-learning can reach out to their assigned teachers for suggestions on platforms to discover.

Parents who are home schooling can incorporate VR with their own determined lesson plans. Parents are able to teach their kids and take them on virtual field trips right from the comfort of their own homes. During these trying times where we feel a bit more confined we can feel confident that technology is still advancing and bringing experiences and education to our students by every means possible. The bottom line is that using VR in the classroom benefits students, teachers and parents.