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Virtual Reality in Education

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Education at any level depends on the cognitive skills of a person. Cognitive skills not only refer to reading, but they also involve seeing and listening too. Till now, we have bee learning through all these three methods.

Let us try to recall how and when we learnt something. In our school and college days, we used to read, see and listen. How much do we remember of all that? I cannot remember much of it. But you may differ. You would say you learnt a lot at schools and colleges. I would certainly agree with it. But whatever we remember, we actually experienced it in our life. We learnt languages and used them in life. We learnt certain skills and used them in life.

Perhaps now, not many would disagree that we remember what we have experienced, not just read, seen or heard. So the keyword is the experience.

Should I say now, learning is best when experienced? It's scientifically proven too. We remember the most what we experience, not just see or hear or listen. So can we have a method of learning where we experience? Yes, we can.

Virtual reality brings experience in learning. Through virtual reality, we can create immersive experiences of learning, where students not just see, listen and read, they interact too.

To understand this, let us discuss an example. Let's say we need to learn about photosynthesis in plants. I hope every reader here knows about photosynthesis - the process of converting sunlight into food by the leaves of plants. Perhaps we all learnt this in schools. But do we remember how exactly it happens? Not many would remember this.

Using virtual reality, we create a 3D model of the plant leaf. We create all other elements in the leaf and make the model animate and react when sunlight falls on the leaf. Then we place ourselves inside the leaf. We can move around in the leaf at our will, interact with different elements. We watch how the leaf converts sunlight into plant food. Whenever we get stuck at some point, we touch some element and complete details are made available to us. In addition, we get the support of videos, images and text to make us understand the concept.

We remain in the leaf as long as we want. We clarify our concepts. We need not limit ourselves to the time limits of a classroom or lecture. We can even take the model with us to our homes on mobiles, internet or standalone files. We go through the model as many times as we want, whenever we want.

Let's talk in scientific terms, what happens to our mind and memory when we do all this. We are actually creating an experience. Experiences are registered in much more easily accessible parts of the brain, as compared to just seeing, reading of listening. When we experience this, we tend to think more about it, consciously and subconsciously. When we think, we register the experience more deep in the brain. Thinking might also raise some doubts and questions. If we have access to this model, we would visit again and get clarification. This way our experience would deepen further.

These experiences remain easily accessible in mind for long. In other words, our learning can be retrieved longer and easily, thus making education easy and interesting. This is the power of virtual reality.


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