“Classrooms are broken. Kids don’t learn the best by reading books.” -Palmer Luckey.

More than words and books, we learn from experiences. And virtual reality is all about creating the experience of something that is unreal. The scope is too vast to not include training and education. A few years back it was disclosed that NASA uses VR technology to train its astronauts before they actually go into space. A combination of VR headsets and images of space environments captured by telescopes in a weightless environment were enough to give the astronauts hands-on experience of all sorts of situations that they might encounter while in outer space.

nasa vr

Following suit, KFC introduced a Virtual Reality based trainer for its employees. The training experience is more of a game but it is enough to give the new employees a feel of how the actual kitchen works. Not long ago the only devices used in trainings were an actual trainer with actual resources. KFC addresses the issue of wastage of resources in training new employees with Virtual Reality training that seems to be cutting costs. But is it really?

A lecture can’t substitute for hands-on learning experience. As technology keeps on expanding and improving, classrooms will become more and more dynamic. VR technology has a lot to offer over traditional methods of teaching but it is still a costly option. Cardboard is a good option for classrooms but still there are issues such as resistance to change and adoption time to deal with.

With virtual reality learners can immerse into an environment and learn with their own experience. Along with this, learners can be accompanied by a virtual trainer who instructs them at each step. There are several websites that offer VR based learning or simulation of major events around the world. One of the uses this has is in building empathy. We generally empathize with people who are close to us because we can imagine the effect an event must have had on them. Virtual Reality is being used by psychologists to effectively stop bullies from harming peers by putting them in similar situations of being bullied hence making them empathize with their victims. The British education system has adopted a VR based technique to teach school students about WWII. We may never know, but this might be what stops the forthcoming generations from going into another war.

Virtual Reality based system makes a positive effect on students’ performance and creates an enjoyable and interactive learning environment. One of the drawbacks is the cost that comes with a new technology but with advances in research this can surely be minimized. Another drawback is the concept of virtual reality itself, i.e. immersion. VR requires a user to immerse into a universe it creates to experience it thus making the experience singular. Other human interactions included in this experience come from virtual reality too thus this tool is incapable of catering to mass learning as of now. This again can only be eliminated with further research into the field which is bound to happen considering the scope of VR technology.