My VR journey continues with my next stop looking at how VR might change the lives of children in education and at home.
Education headlines this year and last have had a tendency to paint a rather bleak picture for the performance of schools up and down the country. Schools failing to make the grade by world standards, the number of underperforming senior schools remained consistently high year on year and almost half of all students in primary school are failing to achieve adequate levels of understanding and ability in Maths, English and Science. Teachers are constantly looking for new ways to engage kids in the classroom and get them to learn more. But, in a world where many would rather play computer games and use their phones for anything and everything, finding a solution is not as easy as you would think.
If technology is considered by some to be part the problem, how can it be used to offer a solution to get kids more excited about learning? This is where VR comes in. Could VR be the answer for reigniting excitement back into the classroom?
It’s no great surprise that Google has taken the VR-education challenge on. They have built software called Expedition, which offers pupils the chance to be taken momentarily out of the classroom to experience different countries, planets and realities. Kids have the opportunity to explore Mars, 14th century Verona, Italy, the Great Barrier Reef and many more places and historical situations, and it’s been made possible by using Google’s affordable VR viewer- Google cardboard.
When children are not in the classroom, many parents struggle to make it home to read their kids a bedtime story. Samsung has unveiled an app called Bedtime Stories which combines the power of VR and the importance of parents reading to their loved ones at bedtime. Samsung is not suggesting or encouraging parents to replace this VR app when they are actually with their children but instead offer them the opportunity to be with their kids when they aren’t at home – when they might be working away from home or living abroad. The app will use VR technology to allow parents to connect with their children in the same virtual world – actually being able to hear their parent recite the story and interact with their parents.
There are obstacles to virtual reality that include the requirement of a VR headset and the on-going debate about whether children should be encouraged to use VR, but the advancements of the tech make this a pretty inspiring time. I definitely think I might have concentrated more in Physics if I had been able to virtually tour planets and galaxies.