Classroom lessons come alive with VR headsets
If you can’t beat them, join them! Schools that were complaining that they’re losing students to the evils of Virtual Reality (VR), have donned VR headsets and looking at the phenomenon with a fresh perspective.
VR has entered classrooms and teachers and children are sitting through classes with headsets, hand controllers and earphones.
This could just be the first chapter in how education will look like in the near future. Educators in the city feel that VR in classrooms will help children learn better and provide an enjoyable visual learning experience.
A pilot project has been introduced in Blossoms School in the city by D Shashi Kumar, head of Blossoms Research Application Interact Nurture (BRAIN) centre. Kumar is also the General Secretary of the Associated Managements of Private Un-Aided English Medium Schools in Karnataka (KAMS). The 360-degree images or videos that are exclusively developed for the VR experience adhere to State syllabus. Says Kumar, “The visual medium is the strongest form of learning for children, especially slow learners, hyperactive kids, kids with attention deficit disorders and impulsive kids. Our research proves that children are more receptive when the medium is visual.”
He adds that children concentrate better when visuals are coupled with sounds. “When kids wear these VR headsets, they do not get distracted. With visuals and sound, the content is absorbed effectively,” added Kumar.
Talking about the teaching experience, Kumar says that content will be uploaded by the teacher. Says Kumar, “This will just be 10 to 15 minutes of content that the kids will be viewing. For example, when we discuss heartbeats, the kids get to see a video of the beating heart so that they understand it better.”
If you think this is the end of a teacher-led classroom, think again. Teachers are not going to become redundant but will be an important part of facilitating the experience. To ensure that technology is not misused in class, Kumar says, “We are developing an application for this. The teacher will have complete control of the App and she/her will release the content and delete it after the delivery.”
The BRAIN centre is also creating original content for the VR classes. “We have a lot of ready-to-use content. In addition, we are shooting videos too, to explain a chapter in 10 to 15 minutes. This unique software we are developing will take over smart classes and help educators train students effectively.”
Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K/MMCL
Educators are planning to include all subjects in this VR learning experience - from languages to mathematics to science, concepts will be customised to a particular grade of students.
Talking about how cost-effect the tool is, Kumar says, “It is a very cost-effective tool. We will work on economies of scale. “
Educators across the city are quite enthused with VR entering classrooms.
Gayathri Devi, principal of Little Flowers School said, “Using visual content while teaching has worked very well for educators. You and I have learned about the volcano on a blackboard, but children need to know how it happens and the best way is through visual representation.”
Experts also say that children understand concepts better in an interactive format. Another principal from a city school said, “This is a great concept and we have only known about gaming with VR. But I’m sure children will love VR in classrooms. I am sure if it is for a few minutes during the whole lecture session, this will definitely make an impact in schools. Children can, in fact, see space, planets, and oceans in a 360-degree view.”