Here’s how AR and VR could revolutionize education

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By YuvrajKrishan Sharma, Co-founder & Director, Kompanions

In present times, students’ passion to learn is diminishing. The simple explanation lies in the fact that the students do not care as long as they keep receiving good grades. The motivation to learn a concept or skill and implement the same is lost in the world of competition to successfully pass an examination.Moreover, our  Education system does not develop the creative thinking amongst the children and it becomes difficult for anybody to visualize a model when asked for a math formula. This happens because of the monotonous way of teaching in school. But AR & VR fix these system overhauls

The new age teaching expert’s believe  that learning a concept from a textbook does not effectively explain a concept for better and easy understanding. For example, subjects taught in the school like language, chemistry, and history, among others are about experiencing the facts through laboratories, field trips, and three dimensional (3D) model. Many would argue that laboratories and field trips, considered as effective sources of learning, could be time consuming and costly affair with no sure shot results all the time. The answer lies in revolutionizing the entire education system to reignite the passion among the learners by introducing immersive and interactive technologies in the classroom to help the students learn and retain the knowledge.

The school education system in developing countries and in many developed economies around the globe is seeing several changes. The evolution over the times have introduced smart classes with access to computers, tablets, smart-phones and the internet in the classroom as teaching and learning aids. Blackboards and two-dimensional images in the textbooks are being replaced by smart-boards and technology–enabled curriculum. Several progressive schools in India are adopting the various technologies-friendly ways to teach and many publishing houses have introduced curriculum to help achieve this goal.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two such visualization techniques that have gained huge popularity among the schools and educationists. Many experts see them as escaping the real world or creating an interactive and immersive learning experience without using a textbook, thereby re-instating the passion among students to learn. A Geography class can bring the oceans and the mountains to the students without leaving the classroom or students can retain the concepts of molecular models more effectively by using VR technique.

For example – Augmented Realty (AR) offers a novel method of blending virtual and real anatomy for intuitive spatial learning. The Human Anatomy has been designed to quench the inquisitiveness and curiosity that young learners have when it comes to understanding the mystifying and miraculous nature of our body. Students can understand the complex workings of our body better through Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Gamification, Brain Boosters and more. This helps students in Memory Building, Creativity & Imagination, Object Recognition, Motor Skills, Attention Span Building, Curiosity Building, Analysis & Critical Thinking, General Knowledge, Problem Solving

No doubt it completely changes the way teaching works. But, how does this work?Unlike the traditional methods of learning where the learner is led into a default pace and environment of learning, VR and AR facilitate and empower the learners to explore and discover things.  They also help them to chart out one’s own learning journey at one’s pace.

For example, a learner experiencing VR can go on an expedition in a jungle just by downloading an application (app) in a smartphone and using simple cardboard VR glasses and earphones. The student can learn about each animal at his/her own pace through an environment that can stimulate learning and comprehension in an enhanced way by presenting symbolic and experiential information together. The learner is exposed to a completely new environment without even stepping out of classroom or home. AR also facilitates user controlled interactions and learning. All one needs to do is download an app on a smartphone or tablet and have access to trigger/tracker images. It provides an active learning environment for the learner, otherwise unattainable. Imagine being able to understand the water cycle or life cycle of a tree or a molecule through in-built interactions and engagements. Such environments also present the opportunity to learn in contexts that are impossible or difficult to experience in real life. They also provide a great tool for evaluation because of easy monitoring in a virtual/digital environment.

Teaching methods like out-of-classroom experience,teaching communities, internships, service learning, research laboratories and study abroad, among others are known to have huge impact on the students,improving both learning and retention.Given the fact that they require a great deal of time, personnel and money, the ubiquity and affordability of VR and AR technologies would make high-impact educational experiences more available to all students. Students can wear a VR headset and take a comprehensively designed virtual trip of the subject or concept to be learned.

It would be not only exciting for a history student to take a guided tour of Red Fort or other ancient heritage sites or a science student to observe how the fishes swim inside water or learn about the galaxy while traveling in the galaxy itself. Experts believe such learning can be transformative. The micro aspect of learning goes beyond travel wherein subjects like Chemistry, Physics, and Biology could be thought through virtual labs, facilitating access to several lab equipment and increasing curiosity of a student before they practice the experiments with their teachers in the real laboratories.

Through these techniques, the central concept of learning is about experience, bringing high impact, vividness, and interactivity in the learning process. The intense medium engages both the body and the mind through multiple sensory modalities. As the learner moves in and out of the learning process, critical thinking and knowledge building are enhanced. To explain it in simple terms, the movement between the physical and the virtual world creates effective opportunities for depth and reflection on a subject or concept.

Besides, the child’s  experience via an APP, are  designed in such a  way that it helps analyze the performance of a child. For example, when a child in an exam is not able to solve a question of adding 1 green apple with 1 red apple & 1 black, orange whereas the same child easily answers 1+1+1=3 when asked generically.  Its our system limitation that shows that the child is poor in maths, however the reality is the child is not poor in maths rather is not able to understand the question and comprehend to answer. This is where AR & VR helps a parent and teacher analyze the child’s performance.

If the future of education is going to involve virtual space, below are some thoughts on the impact on the learning process of students:

Increased collaboration leads to better social integration of learners: Students who struggle to become part of a class are better accepted by their fellow pupils as students are seen to come out of their shells. Students who lacked confidence in subjects like mathematics and science become self-assured. Experts have noted that students from all backgrounds or slow learners show positive results. It is suited for students with varying needs and learning styles. Additionally, it provides encouraging opportunities for group work and teaching.

Learning by doing: What is not possible in reality becomes possible in virtual reality. The pedagogies based on constructivism and game-based learning show that children learn best by doing or by being. Rather than listening to the lectures, learners put words underneath a headset and get a real experience but in a virtual wrapper. They can walk around in the virtual environment and can take pictures of places that are not safe. This is a case that is not possible in real life and therefore highly suited for virtual worlds. This virtual environment allows an immersive experience for the students.

Virtual game-based experience increases motivation: Motivation and engagement are two integral aspects of game-based learning, and virtual reality takes this to the next level. It is motivating because it is fun, thereby making a substantial difference. The visual and kinesthetic experiences in virtual worlds contribute to our ability to learn. Students need inspiration and encouragement to keep exploring the potential of education for their own capabilities. The engagement that virtual reality technique creates increases students’ desire to explore more intellect and keeps them away from play.

New approach to reward: For centuries, teachers have used assessment of academic achievements and progress reports as a mark of success. However, virtual reality could transform this concept of incentives in the learning process as success is acknowledged with rewards for achievements. Failures are generally ignored. This is the opposite of much education — where success is neutral and failure is punished. Rewards engage the brain and keep learners to question for more. Emotional rewards are not ignored either as it makes a huge impact on students’ desire to study. In game-based learning and scoring, certain challenges could be difficult to accomplish on the first try. There is increasing complexity. But it encourages the learners to take risks and try different ways as strategies for success. Experts believe that players need to work together and benefit for different skills, specializations of their team members.

Tools for creative learning: Both VR and AR could create the world of imagination, capable of breaking the boundaries in a traditional education system. Students are empowered to create things and learn by being.

One-on-one learning: In a VR world, technology could facilitate the one-on-one learning that many students need within a classroom setting. The teacher can connect with each student and provide the instructions or help without the school spending more resources.

Education is known as the building block of human progress and plays an important role in the development of intellectual growth. Hence, innovation is a must in the schooling system. Revolutionizing the education system with VR and AR could truly be one of the biggest breakthroughs of the 21st century. Instead of students sitting in rows and focusing on the teacher and the blackboard, these technologies would make things possible so that everyone involved can collaborate from anywhere. The biggest benefit would be that students would learn by preference, rather than force. It would free the students from the confines of school desks, memorization, and exams, and help improve learning through experience and active participation. Actively participating in things helps to retain the knowledge for long and implement it later.

About Kompanions

Incorporated in 2015, KOMPANIONS (brand)) is a Gurugram-based ed-tech-sci start-up that aims to make learning processes fun, easy and impactful. The company has various innovative products and solutions in educational games for children between the age of 3and 15 years. The learning elements are based on advanced gamification modules, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, skill remediation and assessment architecture for enhanced learning experiences and outcome.

The brains behind the company are Yuvraj Krishna Sharma and Gautam Arjun who are technology enthusiasts with experience of working in the education space. They realised that AR, VR, and gamification techniques could become powerful learning tools in the age of smart phones and tablets.Having worked closely in the education sector before starting the company, the founders realised the gaps in the Indian education sector.  They realised that the problem that plagues India’s education sector has been poor comprehension, which often leads to poor learning outcomes among school students. They believe that in today’s age when children can use laptops and smartphones from a very early stage, technology can offer tremendous opportunities to make learning explorative, engaging and highly informative for them.This led to the idea of establishing KOMPANIONS.The research and development (R&D) team, creative visualisers, innovation evangelists, and data andpedagogical scientists are all driven by the common goal of making learning and teaching  fun, easy, and impactful for school students.