The role of Virtual Reality in the future of learning and teaching
The world of education and learning is changing. When you read these lines, you should know that I am referring equally to university education, to the youngest in their classrooms at school, or to the graduates who are starting their first online courses to specialize.
It is a fact that, education is changing and it has to change. In this context, the way we are learning and teaching is changing and its impact on architecture and the physical place will be profound as the introduction of virtual reality and online learning continues its ascent to allow for blended learning.
The construction of virtual classrooms in schools, universities, hospitals and professional training centers, allows students to actively participate in the construction and launch of projects, internships and attend lessons on site. This system, allows a feedback in real time, teaching much better what is the best way to learn any concept.
What is blended learning?
We agree that knowledge is the new currency, and so, to thrive in the data and technology based economy of the future, knowledge is our most valuable asset.
The question at this point is how can we scale up knowledge creation and how can we foster learning in a way that is relevant to the Industry of the future.
This is where blended learning comes into play; it replaces the seminar class style, “talking head” lecture with highly interactive teaching and peer learning opportunities, combining online interactions, on-site group learning and virtual learning, driven by rapid feedback to students.
Moving away from old myths
Generally, schools have boasted of the dogma of “the on-campus learning experience. But the truth is that the physical space of study centres finds it very difficult to adapt to the rhythm of student growth.
The type of space required to support blended learning will change and the number of students will no longer correlate directly with physical space.
It is more likely that built space will be seen as an anchor and part of the University’s brand identity, while virtual space will continue to grow and offer the opportunity for study centres to save a great deal of cost.
How to create large virtual environments designed specifically for human interaction?
For architects, installers and experience designers, this is both a challenge and an opportunity. A common theme for all educators is the question of how to shape large virtual environments that are designed expressly for human interaction.
The virtual environment must offer authentic experiences that bring together place, space and time with high levels of engagement and feedback; just because an experience is virtual does not mean that we should settle for a low-fidelity version of life.
The skills of experience architects and designers translate into virtual worlds that can be harnessed by educators, either in simulating environments or in blending virtual and real environments.
A great virtual experience is one in which the user or users participate through storytelling, are given choices within the environment, can get real-time information about their choices and see visible achievements.
This can be further enhanced by the use of cognitive tracking that observes the entire learning context in collaboration with the learner by analysing the movements of the eyes, keyboard, mouse, digital pen, sound and environment (setting) to assess the impact and effectiveness of learning.
Situational learning is enhanced by VR, allowing students to participate in learning experiences that would otherwise be difficult to replicate, such as complex surgical procedures. Such environments can also be used for user testing and on-board incorporation.
Situational learning is enhanced by VR, allowing students to participate in learning experiences that would otherwise be difficult to replicate, such as complex surgical procedures. These environments can also be used for user testing and on-board integration.
The virtual environment should be established as an educational asset that can evolve with course work or be adapted through the digital feedback loop.
Instead of educators thinking that each specific case should be considered independently, they should consider their virtual worlds as an institutional asset that is constantly evolving and can be shared across disciplines, courses, years and ages.
This becomes exciting when considering interdisciplinary or organizational collaborations that could leverage and evolve virtual environments. Once virtual assets are created, content can be delivered quickly and in a meaningful way, in a personalized way.
Like most efforts in our world today, expert partnerships are becoming critical to enable us to deliver our vision. When technology increases in complexity and the pace of change required accelerates, collective creativity is the answer.
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