With our business and personal lives moving to the digital environment, it makes sense that education — from elementary school through to college, trade schools, and professional development courses — will also migrate to a more technologically focused model. And that includes the influence that virtual and augmented reality will wield in the classroom over the next decade.
AR and VR Will Revolutionize the Classroom
Today’s education environment is increasingly offering immersive experiences that help children, teens, and adults truly enjoy the process of learning. Plus, these technologies can help certain students learn more effectively than traditional classroom methods by overcoming language barriers and accommodating visual learners.
With the prices of AR and VR equipment starting to drop, the technologies are becoming more accessible to teachers looking to accomplish those objectives. The possibilities for adding AR and VR to their classrooms are exciting.
Use Cases for Enhanced Learning Experiences
Virtual field trips are one way AR and VR are already in use. After working through some issues with WiFi networks, charging issues, and the comfort levels of students and teachers, many educators now find this an ideal way to teach lessons and keep students engaged. Melinda Lohan, a Massachusetts high school teacher, has been conducting virtual field trips for three years and reports that “The kids love them.” Introducing the technology has changed what happens in her class. Students watch lectures and take notes at home so they can get immersed in these types of learning experiences during school hours.
In addition to enabling educational “travel,” AR and VR have been shown to improve motor skills, enhance imaginative play and thinking, and inspire learning through gamification. Also, an increasing number of educational applications are being created with these technologies that focus on applying critical thinking skills to real-world problems. This helps students see how to take these skills with them into the workplace and makes what they are learning more relevant to them. AR and VR applications can also serve other educational purposes, such as professional development for service personnel, police officers, and more.
Marketing to Educators
While educators may be interested in this technology, the real news is that they are also planning to invest heavily in it. According to Forbes, “Goldman Sachs estimates that roughly $700 million will be invested in AR/VR applications in education by 2025, on simulations for everything from forklift operations to architecture to invasive surgery. Gartner projects that 60 percent of all higher education institutions in America will be using virtual reality in the classroom by 2021.”
That means there is a significant opportunity for education marketers to influence purchase decisions. Education marketing firms like MDR, a division of Dun & Bradstreet, have emerged to help companies market to teachers by connecting educators with brands that offer AR and VR tools. This includes helping tech providers understand to whom they should market their products and how to illustrate ways they can solve specific problems or challenges for that audience.
Helping a Traditional Field Learn New — and More Inclusive — Ways
Now is the time to approach teachers and educators with technology products that will help them not only improve, but also democratize education. Melissa Pelletier, MDR’s education research editor, observes that “VR is the perfect vehicle to help students put themselves in others’ shoes. Kids of all ages could benefit from experiences that require them to work in teams or that show them what it’s like to be discriminated against. Social-emotional skills like empathy are valuable both within the classroom and throughout life. They may not be written into the curriculum like history or math yet, but they’re every bit as important.”
With so many educators seeing the results of using AR and VR in the classroom and hearing positive feedback from their students, more teachers and schools will consider transforming their teaching models for the digital age. This gives more tech startups the opportunity to get their solutions in front of an educator audience and continue disrupting what had once been such an entrenched, tradition-bound field.