The concept of VR, or virtual reality, has been with us fordecades now, but recently, major advances have been made. These advances haveallowed the virtual reality industry to thrive, with many companies developingVR technology to try and put them at the forefront of what they are hoping tobe in the future. But where is this all going, will VR end up as just anotherway to watch movies and play games, or will it become the next educationalsystem, or even affect the way the world is run? VR in EducationFor many years, the education system has been ever-changingto keep up with modern technology, for example, Power Points and projectors.
Both of these were not created for education, but were created for otherpurposes, nonetheless, they have become the modern way of presentinginformation, I believe that this could be a reasonable path for VR to go down,as the education system is in dire need of a rework, as many of the currenttools used for education are very ineffective and all the system needs isaccess to VR. There are many benefits of using virtual reality in theclassroom instead of things like whiteboards or projectors because if eachchild was to have a VR headset that they could interact with while they werelearning something, they would learn it much quicker due to it being an active,rather than passive learning experience. It also provides an immediate sense ofengagement for the child which even now is a problem due to shorteningattention spans even now, but more so in the future. Moreover, learning complextopics, such as hard to understand theories becomes much easier when thelearning experience becomes personalised, to let the child focus on the partsthey don’t understand, instead of having to learn all the parts to a similardegree, due to the rest of the class not understanding said topics. As well asthis, if the children are immersed in their own headsets, the massive currentproblem of in-class distraction due to chatting amongst student will decreaseand maybe even die out completely, furthering the great benefits that schoolcan give a child. One other problem with the current education system is thatpeople have different learning styles, visual, oral and kinaesthetic etc. In aclassroom environment, this can only be facilitated to a certain extent asthere is one teacher to many students, however with a personalised VR learningexperience this will not be a problem, as there will be the option for a childto select a certain type of lesson for whichever style lets them learn thebest. Another factor that tells us why VR is such a great idea inthe classroom is that due to the younger generations becoming more and morereliant on technology to let them live their lives.
So, if VR headsets were tobe used in a classroom it would also allow for the students to understand howto use modern technology more, and if they already do know all that they neededto about VR, it would allow them to make significant use of this learningfacility to the point where it enhances their learning speed and thereforeallows them to further research the topics that interest them. This allows forbetter creativity and personal identity, as it will give the children moretopics of interest. One thing teachers are already able to do with virtualreality is to create virtual worlds that convey information better than aPowerPoint can. These virtual worlds are typically multi-user environments forpeople to interact with one another behind digital avatars. These environmentsare useful to take students to impossible locations, these are most effectivein Science, Medicine and Maths. For example, these environments can representabstract concepts that would be close to impossible to show otherwise.
Furthermore, a concept already taken into practise due to the amazingrepercussions is the simulation of medical procedures, these are good formedical students to learn how to perform certain procedures by physically doingthem and not endangering people. Several ways VR isused now and may be in future Mark Bolas, who is a professor at USC school of CinematicArts and does research at the Institute for Creative Technologies has beenworking in VR since 1988. He says that “VR hits on so many levels.
” And that”It’s a real out of body experience, yet completely grounded in your body.” He believesthat “VR allows us to go beyond the limits of physicality to do anything youcan think of.” He made a series of 14environments to try and mimic the feeling of vertigo within a virtualenvironment, and to be able to look up towards the sky to see fireworks exploding,he described the experience as magical. This creation alone can be used for somany things, it can allow for us to feel like we are moving and to simulate afeeling that we are looking at something, even though we may be hundreds ofmiles away from it. This could lead to massive events, such as the Olympics or majorconcerts being played in small venues across the globe, and being compiled intoa viewing experience available for whoever owns a headset. Maria Korolov, a journalist who specialises in technologyand furthermore has dedicated her career to looking at virtual reality thinksthat the biggest way VR is currently changing the workplace is through trainingand simulations, for example, the US military who were very early to adopt VRfor their air force. More recently, a doctor has practised heart surgery on atiny baby, he did this by taking scans of the heart and then uploading them tothe computer and using a VR headset to plan the surgery and give him a higherchance of success, and he did, in fact, save the baby’s life.
On the education front, the main advancement found is GoogleExpeditions. Google has been seeding schools with over 100,000 VR headsets andlesson plans. Google Expeditions currently doesn’t actually do very much, butit does allow kids to go on ‘Virtual Reality field trips’, to the surface ofthe moon, for example. Going on to gaming, you would want somethinginstinctive. For example, how you feel your stomach drop as you are riding arollercoaster and going down a hill.
There was a study where people were in aVR shark simulation, as the open-mouthed shark was coming towards them, theyall screamed because no matter whether the experience is real or virtual, if itis realistic enough due to it being a physical reaction you will have the samefeeling of being scared. Maria also says that the way the internet has changedcommunication of information is like the way that VR could change the way we’communicate experience’. For example, if you were to go to an art class, youcould be invited to a virtual art studio, and if you wanted to go on a walkwith somebody, you would be able to invite them to a virtual forest. She saysthat “it will make the world even smaller than it is now and increase theability of people to telecommute and work together across national boundariesdramatically.” This can bring the world closer together on many levels. A psychologist called Skip Rizzo who works at the Universityof Southern California is a director for Medical Virtual Reality has been usingVR from the 1990s. He got into VR as he became frustrated with the toolsavailable that allow rehabilitation for people with brain injuries.
Hisresearch started when he found out that most of his brain injured clients wereplaying video games as people who find it hard to maintain attention and focuson various everyday tasks were able to focus on these games and their conditionwould get better. The first big question he asked was “Could we build virtualenvironments that represent everyday challenges to help cognitive rehab?” Thefirst thing he was involved in doing was building environments from videos ofIraq and Afghanistan, as well as talking to veterans so that they could have adeeper understanding of the environment. The first experience they createdinvolved riding a Humvee in diverse types of areas. The first trials involvedputting somebody who was traumatised in a situation back in a simulation ofthat experience, however they did it at a gradual level, to allow the person tohandle it. The person running the experiment was able to change the time ofday, lighting and sounds to greater allow the patient to handle it.
This workedas if you confront your fears enough and then confronting the problem withtherapists, the PTSD symptoms start to become less and less and sometimes evengo away completely. VR has also been used to allow people with high-functioningautism to be good at job interviews, as VR is able to mimic a job interviewenvironment, it even goes far enough to allow there to be several types ofpeople being the interviewers so that the person trying to get the job will notget scared or nervous during the real interview as they are hopefully notcaught off guard, no matter the age, gender, ethnicity or even to do with theassorted styles of interviewing, however provocative. Skip says, “this is whyVR is so compelling, because whatever is learnt in virtual worlds, cantranslate into the real world and benefit a certain person’s behaviour.” In conclusion, I and many other people related to VR believethat there are many directions VR can take to be one of the most used tools inthe future, for example, it could be used in primary and secondary schools toenhance learning, it could be used in universities and further education to givethe ability to practise that line of work safely.
It could also go down thegaming route and revolutionise not only the domestic gaming experience but alsothe professional gaming industry. On the other hand, VR could become everything,our world could become completely virtual, with VR capabilities being implantedinto our bodies when we are born.