Virtual Reality – The Next Big Thing in Education Technology
Author: Jacquelyn Ng
VR, AR and MR collectively have become a three-pronged fork, leaving no sectolllAr untouched. Now, this fork has even bitten into the realm of education, with the promise to revolutionize the field. In other words, to “make it fun.” We recently spoke to Lifeliqe, a visual learning platform. They create a digital science curriculum with interactive 3D models designed to engage students worldwide. Currently they host over 10 libraries of content, with lessons in life sciences, mathematics, physics and earth sciences.
It all began 7 years ago with a company called Corinth (named after the Greek city). Corinth built a library of 3D models that were received positively by teachers. Upon more requests for these “3D textbooks”, Lifeliqe was formed. Though of course, their industry is not without its difficulties. Lifeliqe discussed the trepidation teachers might feel towards incorporating such invasive technologies into old-school teaching methods.
They are optimistic about the issue, believing that “VR, AR and MR are just beginning” and that “all technologies need to level-up.” They have hopes that at some point, immersive technologies will reach such levels of adoption that should educational institutions choose to not incorporate it, they will suffer anachronistic consequences. This is not an unlikely thought, as the gaming industry has already underwent such a revolution. A glaring example is the recent Pokemon Go, an AR mobile game that has become the frontrunner of immersive games. However, Lifeliqe made it clear that technology is not the only one that needs “level[ling]-up”. In order for immersive technologies to become a reality in education, teachers will need to be flexible and open-minded.
The reasoning behind incorporating VR, AR and MR into education is not hard to decipher. Children view the world in 3D, but “education works in a way where it tries to describe three-dimensional things with words and pictures.” Without 3D models, learners will have to visualize everything by themselves – possibly losing information in translation. However, with these three prongs, the visualization is ready for the learner to interact with. Lifeliqe notes that this visualization process is especially important for the sciences, as many of the processes are invisible to the naked eye.
Of course, not all prongs were created equal. The current consensus is that there is much more potential in AR and MR as educational tools than VR. This is because VR is a much more high-maintenance technology, requiring head devices and the like whereas AR and MR can be used on any smartphone.
Finally, Lifeliqe asserts that what they are doing is absolutely necessary. “[Kids] need to get the same level of stimulus and engagement in schools” that they are getting from the world outside. Technology in itself is not “self-saving”, therefore teachers cannot simply hand children iPads and expect them to learn – good content must accompany the technology.
“This is something technology can do, and something technology must do. Otherwise, we just have classes of bored young people who don’t care about learning.”
—Vojtěch Šprdlík, Lifeliqe