The sharp rise of remote learning over the last couple of years (one of the key changes in education caused by Covid) has led to modern technology facilitating new approaches to education. As a result, schools are beginning to integrate digital tools into their classrooms. It is certainly thought that the crop of new technologies on offer will revolutionise the classroom in the future, as it offers a more immersive and interactive experience than students are used to at school.
Indeed, technology can reshape a whole generation of students, as their learning experience becomes more exciting and tailor-made to the needs of the individual student.
1. Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities (human/computer interaction), including visual, auditory, haptic (the ability to grasp something), somatosensory (the network of neural structures in the brain and body that produce the perception of touch) and olfactory (the sense of smell).
In other words, AR lets us see the real-life environments right in front of us—or, indeed, imagined worlds; so, it is perceived as being physically present in a non-physical world. The perception is created by surrounding the user of the VR system in images, sound or other stimuli that provide an engrossing total environment. Over the past few years, it has been used in Pokemon Go, Snapchat and QR Codes. Augmented Reality offers schools the opportunity to create immersive environments that students can interact with, from performing science experiments to bringing events from the past to life.
2. Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality’s immersive character distinguishes it from Augmented Reality. Indeed, Virtual Reality immerses the user in a 360-degree environment that he perceives as real, and with which he can sometimes even interact. Of all the technology on offer, this is probably the most exciting, although it does have its drawbacks. Until now, the factors of size and cost for acquiring headsets have kept this technology out of reach for many schools and institutions.
The technology behind Virtual Reality will certainly help schools move away from outdated methods of teaching that have been around for decades. Statistics certainly show that VR is especially popular among students, 70% of whom (ages 8 to 15), express interest in it. There are a few educational institutions that are finding different ways for bringing Virtual Reality to the classroom, to create a high level of teacher and student engagement. Sophia High School and its pioneering AthenaLabs program is one such online education setting
VR will become the ultimate visual and immersive medium for students.
Anywhere in the world, or in time, can now be viewed sitting in front of a computer. A whole new world will be open to them and student engagement will be at an all-time high. The world will be their oyster – the only thing that will limit them will be their own imagination. Students will be able to experience life on other planets, experience what it was like to be a Viking, perform complex scientific experiments. The possibilities will be endless. Rather than read from some dusty textbooks, they will experience them with all their senses. New content can be uploaded onto VR headsets and create perfect virtual environments for students to virtually view and learn simultaneously.
3. The Metaverse
The term “metaverse” was originally coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction book, Snow Crash, where people use digital avatars of themselves to navigate an online world. Tied very closely to Virtual Reality is the new concept of the metaverse.
The metaverse has been described as a sophisticated union of VR, Augmented Reality, (AR) and video where users “exist” in a digital space. Some of the biggest companies are heavily investing in this new technology, including Microsoft and Nvidia and Facebook; which recently changed its name to “Meta” to align the company with its ambitions to build the “metaverse.”
Meta imagines its users working, playing, and staying connected to friends and colleagues via concerts, meetings, international (and virtual, of course,) trips and, more importantly, classes. The metaverse is then a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. It feels like being inside the internet in 3D, rather than just looking at it on a mobile device.
VR and AR in their various forms will revolutionise education, as students turn their backs on textbooks and enter a plethora of worlds where their imaginations can be stimulated in the most engaging manner possible.
With a deep-rooted focus on gamification, the Metaverse further offers the potential to use game mechanics and experience to design and digitally engage in shared compelling experiences to bring learning to life in ways not possible in traditional classroom settings.
The future of education, driven by technology, will allow children to learn without them realising it, which is the holy grail of education.