I see VR/AR technology disrupting both the high-education/universities and vocational training markets. According Godlman Sachts Report, there is a growing interest in and adoption of virtual and augmented reality applications in education, particularly focused on simulations and virtual exploration. (Goldman Sachts VR/AR 2016). VR/AR can enable students and engineers to understand complex concepts, test risk scenarios and take better decisions before the situation comes. Cutting down time and cost in training, improving quality and education standards and reducing failure and drop out.
The theoretical potential user base is enormous and growing every year. Only in the EU, there are more than 500.000 Educational Centers with thousands of students according of data from EU and Eurostat. The number of high education students worldwide is + 200 millions, and the global education market disrupted is about +20bn € according to research and market analyst (2016).
Thought adoption of these tools on a large scale is still in its very early stages, we are investing in teachers training programs and CIOs assistance for a first strategic approach.
Along this year 2017, we have conducted some “VR in Education” surveys through social media and in different schools within the teacher training workshops, which we have carried out in educational centers and we can provide some answers to the current situation of the VR in Education. Since initially, we have focused on centers where there was a positive perception towards technology and we found teachers with certain skills and abilities in VR / AR technologies. Therefore, the sample cannot be considered as an extended generality.
However, one thing is for sure a key aspect: The teachers training program is being one of the key factors when successfully propagating this technology in Education: The best training of teachers, from technology to advanced methodologies, for their implementation efficiently in the classroom.
How are the students responding to VR in Education?
Generally speaking, we can assert that students respond very positively to VRAR experiences. Nevertheless, they require adequate training and professional coaching in accordance with the experiences with which they will interact and experiment. That is, to go beyond the game or the first “wau” effect, finding spaces of value, where to experiment with real contents and experiences. This must be implemented in a new classroom environment and contextualized within the schools and outside of them.
Initially, students are more likely to create their own experiences and content, but once they begin to practice with quality and recognition applications, they opt more for experimentation and creativity. To become first scene actors instead of developers.
In any case, the creation of valuable VRAR content is not something simple. Since it requires a process of conceptualization, scriptwriting, narrative development, instructional design, programming … etc., which is quite complex. Another thing is to create multimedia content, based either on images or 360 º videos and that serve to develop certain activities individually or in groups.
However, the development of content for educational or training purposes also requires a methodology of creation, in which teachers and students must be trained.
One of the bigest mistakes that is usually made by many users in the case of emerging technologies is the trivialization of technology and the content to be used in it. And before the novelty and discovery, we all feel capable of carrying out content development projects, to visualize them with devices not suitable for this use and ultimate purpose, to add value in the educational / training process.
This is something very common, which has been repeated throughout the history of technology in the classroom and finally, ends up discouraging the student and the teacher in the medium term. Moving from the excitement of discovery to boredom is a foreseeable risk situation that can happen very quickly.
The students respond, in general in a very positive way. Since the confidence is something fundamental at the time of implanting a technology. In this case, students rely on technology and developments, provided they are of quality.
What do the teachers see in terms of results/student performance scores etc?
We are in an early stage of implementation to be able to have measurable and quantifiable results that allow us to evaluate impact of effectiveness in the implementation of VR in the school and for this; we should first define reliable Kpi´s. This is one of the tasks of the VRAR EDU Committee to carry out this year. On the other hand, another of the aspects on which we must focus will be what type of technology is being used (VR / AR / MR), devices … content, curricular, extra … and see what expectations are expected from it. There are several experiences worldwide of applying VR in the Classroom and with very different prisms: Curricular experiences, specific workshops, experimental, creative workshops and innovation, etc.
The results of each one will depend on very different factors: From the implementation of methodology, learning impact, equipment installed, devices used, contents and experiences, hours of activity, evaluation process, availability, etc.
This is a critical aspect, since we cannot expect great results from VR practices using low cost mobile devices and headsets (without gyroscope, accelerometer…) , to interactive and experiential experiences with professional equipment and advanced VR.
One thing has been clearly demonstrated. “The opportunity to incorporate mobile devices, including the devices of the students themselves, to the VR class and activities has been a differential disruptive element with respect to past experiences, very expensive and complex”.
How is VR affecting teacher/learner relationships?
No doubt, in environments where technology is embraced by students and teachers, a very special bond and relationship is created. But the reality is that students, by their experiences at home or with friends, already know and perfectly dominate immersive environments thanks to video games. Moreover, they handle the dynamics and interactions with great skill. This is evident among the students more than among the group of girls. And this is a barrier that must be broken. The technology must be equal and not segregate in groups for any reason.
On the other hand, teachers, in general, have a certain reluctance to innovative technologies, and by their lack of motivation, training and understanding, create a barrier that can separate them from reality and students’ expectations with technology.
Develop creativity, go beyond the imagination, break down barriers … are some of the opportunities offered by the VR and allows these values to be enhanced in the face of the challenges of the future society. And for this reason, it is necessary an important effort on the part of the administration, the professors and other stakeholders to develop an authentic ecosystem of innovation in education to bring it closer to the real world.
Young people see VR/AR ecosystems with more skepticism, being an open system, without concrete answers to questions of the CV and open to interpretations … does it require a new learning methodology, then? Can you start now? Or you have to wait for more experiences…
New learning methodologies, closer to the real world projects and activities will definitely influence in adoption of such a new technologies as they are used in real world companies.
Does VR impact other areas of Education previously not thought about?
It really must affect the environment and context more than the education areas. Firstly, when teaching VR activities in a class, students cannot continue to be taught in the traditional way, where students put glasses on their tables and attend to the teacher’s recommendations, as if it were a traditional lesson. This is something that is still happening in several schools. On the other hand, the need to incorporate appropriate methodologies and adapted to the context, requires a space enabled for this activity.
Initially, and dragging ideas from the beginning of the VR in the 90s, it was thought more in the traditional activities, replaced with a new device like physics, mathematics, science, labs, etc. Nowadays, this is evolving and apparently, it is beginning to experiment more with constructivism, interactions and experiences, as real as possible and minimizing risk activities. Some new examples could be learning in community environments and participation in network experiences … and other types of areas that have their reflection in the world of video games … immersive spaces, virtual worlds, creativity arts, … just looking for unique experiences … but the question is how is this linked to the official curriculum?
In any case, if we can assure, that the richness and potential of the visual experiences, allow to enrich and to enhance the learning in almost all learning areas, but the main issue is how that’s it fits with curriculum content.
At this point, the different hardware and software platforms suppliers must evolve and offer more creative, open and disruptive solutions, integrating the different types of VR / AR / MX in high-quality, usable, autonomous devices and better price. As for the curricular contents, there is a large gap very difficult to cover, due to the high cost of its development.
How is the Education Sector as a whole responding to VR in Education?
The Education sector is responding more slowly than expected and this is due to several factors. Until today, what we see are more experiential, willful and almost individual actions, rather than as a collective aligned with technology.
We already identified some key aspects as main problems that must be faced and resolved to guaranty a real best in class implementation.
- Lack of deep understanding of the benefits of VRAR in education. To understand the benefits and added value of a disruptive technology in the classroom, you need to understand the basics, to rethink the way you teach, to adapt the methodology and provide value as a whole, not just as a single users.
- Lack of adequate teacher training and understanding of the value it brings. This is why, teachers training programs are so important. This is not a question about a brief web seminar in youtube, a mooc to create some kind of 360º contents, create your own VR device with a 3D printer or develop some 3D activities. The concept is the issue, not the 3d thing. We do think that some kind of consultancy services is so important to promote best practices, interexchange experiences between open and global communities, and coachers.
- Lack of resources and adequate budgets for the implementation of a project and commitment of the administrations for innovation and entrepreneurship in education.
The “budget”. This is the first and most relevant entry barrier. While the benefits of technology are clear. We must adjust budgets to this new scenario, incorporating devices, content, training … etc. And this cannot be planned overnight. On the other hand, no matter how long the prices are adapted over time, the educational model’s adaption to this new context must be a clear and definitive commitment to consolidate a new model, which will evolve over time, but which must be redefined. Today the VRAR, tomorrow the Artificial Intelligent, the Robotics or Machine Learning and Internet of Things … but these are the real demands of the labor market and education and training cannot live with their backs to this reality.
“Awareness and paradigm change”. Technology must not remain a barrier to access quality and equal education. Eliminating these barriers is possible, facilitating and strengthening the role of the students in this process, from conception to implementation. On the other hand, the most disadvantaged groups or students with special needs can see an exit that until now had closed.
- And last but not least, approach to the problem from the origin and not as a substitution of anything.
When we talk about New Technologies in the Classroom and in particular Advanced Reality technologies (VR / AR), we are not talking about a passing fad, a new trend or simply something that has to be tried to be modern. Perhaps, if we do not understand the context, the framework in which the current society develops, the training needs of the new generations of students and the demands of future jobs, we will not be able to understand the importance and relevance of the need to bet on a new paradigm in the educational ecosystem. Maybe we are in the prehistory of Disruptive Education, but it is time to establish new rules, in a more egalitarian and just society, communicated, in a network, empowering the role of women in traditionally man-paid environments and taking a step towards the future already. It is the time of change and does not wait for anything or anyone.
If we wish to prepare a generation of citizens, entrepreneurs and leaders for the 21th. Century who can face real-world problems, we must give them real-world problems to solve.
Schools of the Future, is a program aimed at Educational Centers, Colleges and Institutes, with entrepreneurial, innovative and creative will at the disposal of the Educational Community. Throughout this program of 6 months, we help you and facilitate the learning of Advanced Reality (Virtual and Augmented Reality) in the Classroom and discover how it can be an effective tool for educators and students.
Likewise, we will provide a platform with VR / AR content for classroom use and we will teach you how to create your own content, incorporating innovative and creative methodologies.
Carlos J. Ochoa (C)