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June 30th, 2016

Why Virtual Reality Education Is The Next Frontier For Classrooms

Transport your child to a galaxy far, far away.

When you were a kid, you learned of far off lands by looking at a map, reading a book and maybe watching a video. The concept of “somewhere” else was essentially an abstraction facilitated through a teacher.

Virtual reality could change the way children learn of the world.

A nationwide survey of 1,000 K-12 teachers said 60% of people were keen to make virtual reality part of the overall educational experience, even though only 2% of teachers had already used VR as a teaching aid. According to the results of a GfK KnowledgePanel survey—commissioned by Samsung and presented at the recent ITSE 2016 conference in Denver—86% of teachers said it was a challenge to keep students interested in a subject and virtual reality could solve the problem.

Samsung said 93% of teachers thought that students would be eager to use virtual reality headsets as part of their education, with 83% of teachers convinced that VR could improve learning outcomes. Around 77% of people said that virtual reality would increase a student’s understanding of learning concepts, while 84% said that VR would improve classroom motivation.

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The survey said that science, social studies and history are the top three subjects that can benefit from virtual reality, scoring 82%, 81% and 81%, respectively. Art, English literature and engineering were also deemed to be subjects that could be improved by virtual reality. Eighty-five percent of teachers said that virtual reality would have a positive effect on their students, according to a blog post.

How Virtual Reality Can Improve Learning

According to the Samsung survey, over two-thirds of teachers said they would use virtual reality to supplement course curriculum such as chemical reactions in a science lesson or STEM-related learning.

Seven out of 10 teachers would employ virtual reality simulations that are relevant to course content—flying with the Wright Brothers, for example—with 69% of people using VR to travel to global locations or landmarks. Field trips could become more immersive with virtual reality—an option that one million students have already experienced with Google’s Expeditions app, TechCrunch reported.

virtual_reality_everest

Around 68% of teachers wanted to use virtual reality to visit inaccessible locations like outer space, while 42% of high school teachers said that virtual college campus tours would encourage students to pursue higher education.

See also: Why Virtual Reality Will Be More Than Just A Bunch Of Games

Although virtual reality was seen as a boon to education, the next challenge is to implement VR into American schools and education districts. The report said 36% of teachers expected their school or district to adopt virtual reality in less than five years, but 28% of people said that VR would never become part of the classroom.

On the flip side, younger teachers who are more familiar with technology would be more likely to push a virtual reality agenda. Two out of three Millennial teachers described themselves as “innovators” in the classroom, with 22% of that age range already familiar with virtual reality in either a professional or personal capacity.

Teachers Can Take Advantage Of Technology Now

As you would expect from a company that has invested heavily in consumer-ready virtual reality, any opportunity to take VR beyond the game-centric perception will be high on their list and education would appear to fit the bill. A recent report by Greenlight VR placed education ahead of gaming in terms of consumer interest level, with 63.9% of 1,200 people choosing that sector as one for virtual reality’s future.

virtual_reality_interest

Samsung said that the majority of teachers in its survey considered virtual reality to be the next stage in educational technology. This should come as no real surprise. The Samsung Gear VR is considered to be an entry point for most early adopters and there is a Samsung-curated library of 360° video content already available to educators and students.

“As we saw with Chromebooks, tablets, digital curriculum and game-based learning, emerging technologies can have a profound impact on student success and virtual reality has the potential do the same and more,” said Samsung Electronics America’s vice president of Vertical Business Ted Brodheim, in a press release. “Samsung is committed to empowering students and teachers through technology, and we’re excited to work with educators to create new learning opportunities with virtual reality.”

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