VR is about to change the way we learn forever.
Education is the strongest driver of social mobility. But, not everyone gets the same education. Privileged families will stop at nothing to send their children to the best schools with the best teachers. Low-income families do not have that choice. They are forced to send their children to the public school in their disctrict — which tends to have more students in need of extra help, fewer guidance counselors, tutors, and psychologists, lower-paid teachers, more dilapidated facilities and bigger class sizes.
Luckily, this digital age brings opportunities to equlize the playing field and enable better learning with the help of technology for a low cost. Right now schools are using technology as a powerful tool to retain facts. But, it can do so much more.
Virtual reality can be used to further enhance learning by engaging students. Being immersed in what you’re learning sparks curiosity and motivates you to keep exploring. Imagine a history class that takes field trips to Machu Picchu and the Pyramids of Giza. Imagine a science class that has virtual lab experiments.
In the midst of a pandemic, reopening schools will bring many risks with it. Virtual reality will allow us to put educators and students in the same room safely. Over the past few months, Zoom has become the new normal for millions of students across the country. There is no personal or physical interaction, stunting mental growth. Fundamental capabilities such as teamwork, communication, organization, creativity, adaptability, and punctuality are not being learned.
Imagine a virtual classroom where teachers teleport into the VR world and guide students through their experiences. In this virtual world, students would be able to interact more personally with their peers and professors.
We are only at the dawn of virtual reality and must expect challenges. We need to be aware of possible implict implications. We need to make active efforts to make VR technology affordable and accessible for all.