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Augmented, virtual reality trend in education

Augmented Virtual Learning
The pandemic has fueled progress toward the use of augmented and virtual reality in education delivery in online learning.

Augmented reality or virtual reality has been one of the fruits of education technology that has saved international education through online learning. It has also engaged it even more as major players are now starting to see the virtual technology trend in education.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Virtual reality (VR) application in higher education is in its early stages.
  • The pandemic enforced the advantages of education technology.
  • VR applications include gamification, exploration and demonstration.
  • Only a matter of time until VR/AR (Augmented Reality) make their way into online classes.

Currently, virtual reality in higher education is still very new. While virtual and augmented reality (VAR) has been around for quite some time now—usually applied in the entertainment and gaming industries—virtual reality application in higher education is in its early stages.

A July 2021 study on the adoption of VR for higher education revealed data based on a virtual reality laboratory built in the University of Sydney back in 2017. It was utilized by almost 5,000 students mostly from the Faculty of Engineering (53 percent), the Faculty of Arts & Social Science (23.8 percent) and Faculty of Science (23.2 percent).

“The laboratory saw a 250 percent increase in student numbers over the period of evaluation and 71.5 percent of students surveyed reported enhanced learning outcomes. The cost per visit was only AUD$19.50. These findings give confidence to higher education institutions that the right VAR technology infrastructure is a sound educational investment for the future,” it stated.

Another recent study looked into the effectiveness of virtual reality in online learning for higher education; as augmented reality in education was also discussed. 

“Many researchers in the field of AR have emphasized its positive effects in the learning environment in terms of providing engagement and motivation for students towards learning and helping students to gain experiences by repetition of situations that are difficult to repeat in reality,” it stated.

The COVID-19 pandemic all the more enforced the advantages of education technology.

“During [the pandemic], students were required to finish their remaining courses through [online distance learning], and the results of this study indicate the superiority of [augmented reality] in virtual classrooms over virtual classroom lessons that do not use AR,” stated the study.

“The current study emphasizes the important role of AR because of its effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes, especially during the pandemic, which is expected to continue for a long time around the world. Adjustment to this ‘new normal’ and the practice of social distancing makes AR one of the most appropriate ODL tools designed and applied professionally and accurately,” it added.

Considering that VR online classes are looked at as the future of education—an idea only to be reinforced more by the pandemic—some countries have actually looked into virtual reality in online education, and have gathered rather positive data feedback. In Latvia, its government provided a €500,000 grant for research in “technological transformation of remote education—this includes virtual and augmented reality in online education.

Current Applications

While virtual and augmented reality does trace their roots to the entertainment and gaming industries, their applications in online learning have been welcomed by the academic community.

Here are a few examples of how virtual and augmented reality in education impacts modern learners.

1. Virtual reality and gamification

With a strong history in the gaming industry, virtual reality can engage students to play and learn at the same time.

2. Virtual field trips and exploration

While nothing beats a real-life trip to an archaeological site, virtual and augmented reality can offer an immersive experience at the fraction of the cost without the logistical challenges of having to plan a trip for 30 students.

3. Virtual practice and demonstration

Medical and engineering students will find this application most useful. There can be exams that allow them to demonstrate a particular task. Simulators will also help professionals like drivers, pilots and astronauts to practice their skills and perfect them without the risks.

Points of Improvements

Moving forward, it is only a matter of time until augmented reality and virtual reality make their way into online classes in the international education sector. While there is cause for excitement at the potential of virtual reality applications in higher education, experts also caution the presumption of success as there remains several elements outside of the technology itself which determines the success of virtual reality in higher or online education.

Key concerns include but are not limited to the following: Actual technical knowledge for those in charge of virtual and augmented reality education delivery, the limited source material for globally competitive educational content, the health and safety of virtual and augmented reality users—most especially in the psychological aspect and the mere accessibility of such advanced technology for higher education institutions all over the world.

Conclusion

Education technology has done so much for the international education sector most especially as the entire world market is currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher education institutions have quickly adapted to online distance learning as a means of survival. One can presume that post-pandemic, it is only a matter of time until virtual and augmented reality in online learning for higher education becomes the norm and not just some emerging trend or technological gimmick.

Data Sources:

Marks B., (2021, July 8) Adoption of virtual reality technology in higher education: An evaluation of five teaching semesters in a purpose-designed laboratory. Education and Information Technologies. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10639-021-10653-6

Eldokhny, A. (2021, January 18) Effectiveness of Augmented Reality in Online Distance Learning at the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning. Retrieved from https://online-journals.org/index.php/i-jet/article/view/17895/9191


Nesenbergs, K. (2020, December 31) Use of Augmented and Virtual Reality in Remote Higher Education: A Systematic Umbrella Review. Education Sciences. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1283055.pdf

Allen, J. (2021, June 10) 5 Practical Uses of AR and VR in Distance Learning. Infobase. Retrieved from https://www.infobase.com/blog/featured/5-practical-uses-of-ar-and-vr-in-distance-learning/

Dick, E. (2021, August 30) The Promise of Immersive Learning: Augmented and Virtual Reality’s Potential in Education. Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Retrieved from https://itif.org/publications/2021/08/30/promise-immersive-learning-augmented-and-virtual-reality-potential

Johnson, A. (2021, February 4) The Post-Pandemic Outlook for VR in Education. Robot Lab. Retrieved from https://www.robotlab.com/blog/the-post-pandemic-outlook-for-vr-in-education

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