Education will be completely disrupted by Virtual Reality
Many are excited by the disruptions Virtual Reality is doing in entertainment, but of all the industries that will be disrupted by Virtual Reality, I am more excited with the disruptions coming to the education sector. Let us use the subjects of history and geography as examples.
As an history teacher you know how hard it is to vividly explain historical events that happened thousands, or hundreds, or tens of years ago. What if you could take your students to a time travel trip to watch those events in real time as they happen? What if they could go back in time and watch the Mau Mau fight the British? Or watch the Portuguese build the Forte Jesus and later watch how the Arabs took over Forte Jesus from the Portuguese?
In Geography, when your students are those who haven’t set foot outside Eldoret yet you want them to appreciate the significance of Tibetan Plateau which is still under formation in Asia, you will readily appreciate the importance of a technology that will allow your students to visit the plateau without having to leave the classroom.
We know that right now and in the next hundreds of years humans may not be able to actually travel back in time and watch history unfold like it happened in the TV series 11.22.63. Teleportation is also hundreds of years away. But Virtual Reality provides the opportunity for us to both time travel and teleport to other geographic locations in order to experience, first hand, events and locations that we would otherwise be impossible to experience given out time and geographic location.
Virtual Reality will not just drastically reduce the cost of offering education content that requires normal travel or play around the impossibility of time travel, but the technology will also reinforce information in the brains of students in a manner that text, voice and pictures cannot. Someone who has gone to Tibetan Plateau, or someone who was in the heart of a volcanic eruption, or someone who has actually visited the satellite galaxy in the southern constellation of Dorado, or the student who watched Leonardo Da Vinci paint his great works, will very easily understand Geography, Geology, Astronomy and History compared to a student that uses only text and probably a boring voice to try and understand the same concepts.
The other way Education is being disrupted in Virtual Reality is on collaboration. With Virtual Reality, students can be “physically” present in far flung classrooms to attend long distant lessons offered through correspondence or online. A student in the University of Nairobi can use Virtual Reality to attend a live class session happening at the same time in University of Liverpool. When Virtual Reality matures to a point of mainstream availability and seamless access, students will be able to register for various classes from diverse Universities and be able to attend all of them without having to get out of their bedrooms.
Elsewhere in the world Virtual Reality is already being applied to teach students lessons in biology, anatomy, geology and astronomy, meaning students in those “elsewhere” places are already grasping concepts quicker than we here in Africa and particularly in Kenya are able to. It is therefore a challenge for us through our Government to proactively plan to adopt Virtual Reality in classrooms then spearhead the development and/or acquisition of Virtual Reality content across a wide range of courses, subjects and lessons.
For example, the Government can take the initiative to Partner with Google in order take advantage of the Google’s Pioneer Expeditions where, as described by TechCrunch, “thousands of schools around the world are getting … a kit containing everything a teacher needs to take their class on a virtual trip: Asus smartphones, a tablet for the teacher to direct the tour, a router that allows Expeditions to run without an Internet connection, a library of 100+ virtual trips (from the Great Wall of China to Mars) and Google Cardboard viewers or Mattel ViewMasters that turn smartphones into VR headsets”.
So, as a student, which subjects do you find hard to grasp? History? Physics? Chemistry? Biology? Virtual Reality promises to take you to a journey where you will be able to see atoms join together to form molecules, how sub-atomic particles live together within the atom, and how blood flows within the veins and arteries – to see how stars form and die – how the Universe Expands. Once Education gets disrupted by Virtual Reality, you will not have an excuse not to love any branch of knowledge.