Virtual reality technology creates an engaging environment for students.
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Virtual Reality has gone from the fictional world of “The Matrix,” all the way to the classroom.
Virtual reality headsets give students hands-on experience in their respective fields, from within the walls of a classroom anywhere.
More universities and school systems should follow the University of Iowa and invest in virtual reality. Virtual reality provides a unique experience for students. Within a simulated 3-dimensional model lab room, students can pick up and move digital materials as they would in real time.
Medical students would have the opportunity to dissect an accurate 3-dimensional model of a human body with virtual reality technology, rather than using an expensive cadaver. Chemistry students can observe the 3-dimensional shape of molecules, and students in the trades can practice with simulated equipment.
VictoryXRa company based in Davenport, Iowa specializes in virtual reality-related learning experiences.
They are collaborating with Meta, Facebook’s parent company, to build classroom technology. A virtual campus can cost $50,000 for a 5-7 building twin campus, created using a combination of Google Earth photos and photos from the institution and architectural plans. Funding is helped by Meta.
The technology also includes Quest 2 headsets that are designed to simulate turning and looking around a designated environment within a given program.
On their website, they also offer augmented reality learning materials and Meta homeschool educational bundles at $199 not including the $325 to include a Quest 2 headset.
UI Computer Science Professor Dr. Joseph Kearney is the co-director Hank Virtual Environments lab. The Hank Virtual Environmental lab uses virtual technology to study perception-action problems.
“It’s becoming so much cheaper, that it’s now becoming practical to deploy [virutal reality] in lots of different ways.” Kearney said. “… We bought a headset in 2012, that was a state-of-the-art headset. It was very heavy, and it had lower resolution, less responsiveness, and more lag time than the Quest I have. The Quest I have is only $300. That system we bought in 2012, which is not that long ago, was about $15,000.”
Kearney believes virtual reality can be a learning tool.
“I think it’s a good time for the university to look for ways to thoughtfully deploy it where it’s appropriate.” Kearney said.
Globally, the virtual reality education market is expected to rise from $6.37 billion to $8.66 billion in 2022. By 2026, that value will be expected to reach $32.94 billion at a compound annual growth rate of 39.7 percent. Notable Companies expected to be involved with this include Facebook Technologies, LLC., HTC Corporation, Google, and Sony.
The cost that goes into developing 3-dimensional virtual reality educational software goes between $40,000-60,000. Headsets themselves cost from $399-$1,200 per unit depending on the complexity of the model.
Schools and universities should accept that virtual reality will become a great step in education. As an emerging technology, virtual reality has many opportunities to adapt to the needs of students and teachers. Nor innovations arrive, so too will budget-friendly options. This change in learning is too valuable to pass up.