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The application of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) in education has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of instruction as well as drive significant cost reduction.
For example, VR/AR tools can help universities that lack resources and facilities to safely conduct experiments involving hazardous materials or potentially dangerous chemical reactions. Virtual labs could also help schools reduce demand for costly specimens and microscopic and surgical equipment. Medical students, for instance, could use VR for training before actually performing a dissection on a cadaver.
VR/AR applications for education could be developed via a portal/crowdsourcing model, analogous to Apple’s App Store. Under this approach, Subject Matter Experts at educational institutions would help build the VR/AR experiences and applications, which would then be consolidated within a “VR/AR Portal.” An interactive, video-based instructional guide could help school IT departments set up their own VR/AR Labs with minimal third-party involvement.
Associated technology costs for VR/AR solutions vary widely, from HTC Vive or Facebook Oculus Rift devices and workstations on the high end, to low-end tools like Google Cardboard and DIY solutions where the VR experience is delivered via a mobile app on the student’s personal phone. While VR devices that provide an optimal experience can be expensive, Facebook is planning to launch more competitively priced devices in February of 2018.
Adoption of VR/AR technologies may be slow; one potential inhibitor is a common policy of locked WiFi and connectivity environments that don’t allow students to use their own phones on campus. To address this, some schools are actually buying and locking phones for dedicated use by students on VR/AR applications.
Educational institutions face increasing pressure to use technology to reduce costs and do more with less. At the same time, schools are seeking to drive innovation through VR/AR, as well as Artificial Intelligence, Digital Assessment and Adaptive Learning. These technologies can create competitive differentiation by providing a more immersive learning experience, as opposed to the traditional static book/online course model. Although market growth may be uneven, forward-looking institutions will seize the opportunity.
Softtek is currently implementing pilot projects to assess the potential impact of a VR/AR lab within an educational environment.
Contact us to learn more about opportunities to deploy VR/AR tools in the classroom.