Getting Teachers’ Heads in the Virtual Reality Game

Racepoint Global

Following on from our recent blog “Creating a common language in the education market,” about how companies need to better communicate the benefits of technology in education, Harri Turnbull looks at the potential benefits and challenges of virtual reality (VR) in classrooms.

In November 2016 Google’s CEO announced plans to introduce VR to one million UK school children. The technology has been touted for its transformative effect on education, bringing access to immersive experiences that many students would otherwise never have access to. But convincing teachers of the benefits of virtual reality will be a challenge for Edtech companies, in an industry that is constantly held accountable for student grades and performance.

However, some forward-thinking institutions have already started implementing VR technology into their classrooms. Graeme Lawrie has done exactly that at Sevenoaks School recently and argued for its benefits in learning. Firstly, there is the potential to diversify teaching approaches through more engaging visual learning styles that complement traditional learning methods. Secondly, and from a digital literacy perspective, not exposing children to VR could hamper their opportunities in the creative industries in the future. The scope for virtual reality in architecture, healthcare, electronics and beyond is huge; understanding how VR works will be important for children when they enter the workforce in the future.

For VR technology to become a fixture in the classroom, certain hurdles need to be overcome. Currently, the technology is expensive, the hardware is bulky and the number of applications designed for education is limited. These are all to be expected for a relatively new technology and will be solved in time as the ecosystem grows and demand scales. Driving that demand is the priority for the industry today.

For every Sevenoaks School and Graeme Lawrie, there are 100 or more schools that need to be convinced. In a sector that is closely and rigorously measured for success, education professionals will need to be reassured of the real benefits of VR. The advocacy of those already using the technology will go some way, as will real data that looks at how virtual reality experiences can improve grades.

VR solution providers should look at how they can seed interest amongst teachers by communicating stories and data that will show how VR will help them overcome the everyday challenges they face and achieve their own goals. Understanding that audience is the first step to success.

Written by Harri Turnbull