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Technology in Schools: Going Beyond Reality in the Classroom

A female student uses a VR headset, demonstrating the use of technology in schools

Incorporating virtual reality and augmented reality in education

Technology in schools can transform the learning experience in the classroom. Two of the most exciting advances today revolve around Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). VR is being used to create immersive experiences to introduce students to a variety of subjects and ideas. Meanwhile, AR is becoming more assessable via tablets and other learning devices.

We talk about these two technologies, how they’re being used in schools, and how they might evolve in the future.

Defining VR

VR describes 3D computer-generated environments that allow people to explore and interact in a virtual world. Users become part of the new virtual environment. They can even manipulate objects or complete tasks in the digital world.

It’s implemented using computer technology and devices such as headsets, omni-directional treadmills, and gloves. VR is designed to incorporate all of the senses to create an illusion that is as close as possible to reality.

VR can be used in a variety of applications, including:

  • Architecture

  • Home improvement

  • Real estate

  • Healthcare

  • Transportation (auto, airplanes, trains, ships)

  • Entertainment

  • Fine Arts

  • Sports

  • Travel

  • Marketing/Advertising

  • Education

VR creates an environment that is very real to our senses. It can lead to new, exciting discoveries in several areas. The technology is becoming less expensive and more widespread and we can expect to see it used more across the board.

VR in the classroom

VR technology is being used to actively engage students in the classroom. Books and even the Internet are both options for this, but virtual reality encourages even more interaction. Students can explore museums or the world of dinosaurs “first-hand” with VR. It’s an alternative to school field trips, without the need for signed permission slips or battling traffic on a bus. Plus, VR can go beyond nearby neighborhoods.

Classroom examples of VR:

  • Virtual field trips – Platforms like Google Expeditions allow students to travel anywhere. Students can visit the Parthenon in ancient Greece, explore the surface of Mars, or walk through a science museum.

  • Science exploration – Learn about kinetic energy through the VR Roller Coaster app, explore the brain via InCell or InMind, or see a beating heart first-hand with the Expeditions app.

  • Recreate structures and places – The Oculus Rift or Sketchfab app allow students to recreate ancient structures as 3D models.

  • Visualize fictional places – Bring classic fiction to life by recreating settings or cities with tools like CoSpaces.

  • Become the story – Google Cardboard allows students to create role-playing games and then become part of a 3D tale.

Google Cardboard, in particular, allows people to experience VR in a fun, simple, affordable way. It’s literally a cardboard box in which the user only needs to insert a smartphone into the viewer to play immersive games, visit new places, fly through outer space, and more. It has great potential to be used in classrooms to create riveting educational experiences for students.

Defining AR

While virtual reality creates interactive, computer-generated environments, augmented reality adds to reality, overlaying images with sound effects, visuals, videos, music, and information. While you can use AR glasses, the technology is also accessible with tablets and smartphones.

Point your camera at the sky and an app will tell you the name of the stars and constellations you see. Use your phone’s GPS and an app like Layer to see information about your surroundings, including nearby restaurants, shops, and activities. The popular game, “Pokémon Go” is a great example of AR technology.

The benefits of AR

AR “…offers two-dimensional methods of presenting information versus the traditional one-dimension,” according to ViewSonic. It provides a seamless and engaging way to explore the world that can also help build empathy. The combination of engagement and emotion makes it more likely that students will remember what they’ve learned.

AR can deepen students’ knowledge in many different subjects, from math and science to history. Subjects include:

  • Reading

  • Working with numbers

  • Spatial concepts

  • Content creation

  • Real-life environments and scenarios

  • Field trips

  • Training

AR can be used to supplement the current curriculum and educational materials, stimulating discussion and interest. It helps provide new opportunities for communication and collaboration. It could also potentially be the same technologies that will be used in the workforce later.

Augmented reality in the classroom

AR is becoming more popular with users around the world. Experts estimate that there will be around 2.4 billion AR mobile users by 2023. AR has many uses in education and eLearning applications. It can create a more interactive environment to help engage students, turning them into active learners. Teachers can show virtual examples of concepts from current lessons to help students remember information they’ve learned.

Classroom examples of AR:

  • Dinosaur 4D+ - This app comes with flashcards that allow students to see 3D dinosaurs and learn the characteristics of each kind. They can even enlarge and rotate images.

  • Elements 4D – Science teachers can use this app to make chemistry an interactive experience. Learn the names of the elements, as well as their atomic weights and possible reactions between them.

  • Anatomy 4D – Students can search and explore over 2,000 anatomical structures.

  • Google Expeditions – This technology combines AR/VR to create 3D objects and environments, such as rain forests, volcanos, the Roman Colosseum, or Niagara Falls.

  • Quiver – 3D coloring app

  • Arloon Plants: Learn about various species of flora around the world

AR transforms the ways students interact with mobile apps and visual graphic experiences. It offers a breakthrough in traditional learning by completely changing the learning experience. It seeks to make students more interested in learning and efficient.

Technology at Lamad Academy

Lamad Academy is committed to incorporating the latest technology to ensure our student scholars grow academically and personally. We focus on a STEM curriculum so that our students understand the connection between technology, science, math, and the world beyond our doors. Technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality can enhance the learning experience in the classroom while helping to build life skills like critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, and empathy.

Contact us if you have any questions about our school, academic programs, and education philosophy. If you are looking for a school-home, contact the Lamad Academy Admissions Office.

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