Short Research Paper on Virtual Reality in Education
In the mid-2000s, there was a powerful push to integrate cyberspace into the classroom, and many educators thought that some form of virtual reality would be the future of education. For a time, institutions large and small encouraged instructors to create virtual spaces where students could meet for extra help or attend virtual office hours, or even attend lectures online. These types of interactions often occurred in virtual spaces such as Second Life, where students could create avatars and attend classes in virtual classrooms. Many believed that Second Life would eventually replace in-person learning because of its accessibility and versatility. However, those educators did not account for how students would feel about trying to study serious topics in a video game world populated by cartoons.
Second Life declined in popularity during the late 2000s and today it is something that most college students will have never used, or likely even heard of. However, many of the same supposed benefits of Second Life are said to attach themselves to the newest thing in education, virtual reality, also known as VR.
VR has been around for a couple of decades, but only recently has it become both affordable enough and advanced enough to show promise as an educational tool for a mass audience. Until recently, VR was too expensive to introduce into most classrooms, but now thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, a simply headset can transform most smart devices into VR machines.
According to advocates, there are a number of key benefits that VR use has for the education field:
- VR allows students to travel digitally to far flung locations and experience what the sights and sounds would look like from a first-person perspective. This is more impressive than a simple photograph and comes closer to the feeling of “being there.”
- VR allows students to explore inaccessible or impractical environments in an immersive way. For example, VR can allow students to experience life under the ocean from a fish’s perspective. It can also allow a student to “shrink” down and travel through the human body to virtually “see” body systems at work from the inside.
- VR allows students to experience historical places or events in an immersive way, helping to bring to life situations, people, and places they might not otherwise identify with from a painting or a photography. For example, an app called TrenchApp allows users to walk through a World War I trench to see how this form of warfare affected soldiers during the Great War.
- VR sparks interest in students by promoting learning in a fun and interactive way that feels more like a game than like traditional classroom learning.
On the other hand, using this technology has a few key drawbacks that can affect students:
- VR reduces the amount of human contact that students have in the classroom, shunting off even more of their learning to machines. This can create an impersonal classroom if used too much.
- VR is not as interactive as an actual human being and limits the ability of students to ask questions and engage with course material in an interactive way.
- VR, like any emerging technology, has functionality issues, and precious classroom time can be wasted in training students in using the technology and the inevitable troubleshooting when things go wrong.
- VR can cause physical symptoms such as nausea and might even be addictive. Many users find the experience disorienting and can experience unintended physical sensations.
Virtual reality is a fascinating tool when used sparingly to enhance lessons, but if it becomes a crutch and replaces strong and immersive human teaching, it is likely to produce dissatisfaction or even harm the educational process. Like any technology, going all the way back to Socrates and the stylus, there are tradeoffs with VR. The benefits and the drawbacks of virtual reality may take years to become fully apparent and something we can fully evaluate.
This short research is conducted and written by one of certified academic experts from SmartWritingService.com research paper writing service. This website helps all students worldwide with writing university research projects and college term papers.