What is the future of virtual reality in the classroom? Here are some of the ways virtual reality is being used to enhance and shape the b-school experience
In early 2022, staff in Spain set up a working group to find out how virtual reality (VR) could be used to improve education.
The group of experienced faculty members, including professors from various departments, aimed to reveal how virtual reality could improve current teaching practices, in what situations it could be used and how students could benefit from the experience. .
The task force members had a clear goal: “To make sure that whatever we do, we do it because the learning experience is going to be enhanced,” says Begoña González-Cuesta, Dean of Education and academic experience at IE Business School. .
BusinessBecause sat down with Begoña to find out what IE has learned about virtual reality and how it can be used to shape education.
Virtual reality can help you learn new skills
The IE task force has worked to put its findings into practice, integrating virtual reality into the curriculum in areas where students can benefit from it.
One such area is skills development. An immersive experience, virtual reality lets you enter some hands-on scenarios where you can put your skills to the test.
This is particularly helpful in developing soft skills such as communication and interpersonal interaction. Key scenarios where IE has used virtual reality to develop these skills include public speaking sessions, mock job interviews and negotiations.
“It’s the winner in terms of the number of lessons and experiences we offer students,” says Begoña. “So far it’s been mostly about behavioral skills.”
Where more traditional teaching methods would see students practice public speaking at a number of set points throughout the year, with virtual reality they can practice without an audience or teachers present. This flexibility means you can practice your skills over and over again until you feel comfortable.
“To learn skills, you have to practice them,” says Begoña. “With a theoretical framework, you can learn a few tips and tricks, but ultimately you gain a skill by practicing.”
Virtual reality can enhance the depth of your understanding
There are several methods teachers use to convey information in the classroom today. Whether it’s a simple video, an interactive game, or a more hands-on experience, these techniques are used to improve your level of understanding around a certain topic or issue.
With virtual reality, you can go even further, says Begoña. In many cases, immersive visual storytelling can provide a more complete understanding of a certain topic.
For example, virtual reality enabled IE students to experience first-hand the impact of the climate crisis by showing what it is like to experience a hurricane. It also helped students understand the lived experience of others by allowing them to gain insight into the lives of people of other identities.
When using virtual reality in this way, IE incorporates follow-up workshops and projects that require students to formulate solutions based on their new understanding of the problem at hand.
“The end goal is to get them thinking and trying to get some insight into a problem and potential solutions,” Begoña explains.
Virtual reality allows greater flexibility
The growth of Edtech innovations since the onset of the Covid pandemic has made education more flexible than ever. With virtual reality, it’s no different. It allows greater flexibility for both the students and the schools that use it.
This is mainly because of the level of immersion that virtual reality offers. While video conferencing platforms such as Zoom ensure that all students can learn remotely at the same time, virtual reality enhances this experience to become as seamless as possible.
“By doing this [with VR], students have an experience very close to what it would be like to actually be somewhere. So it adds something that I think is valuable,” says Begoña.
The ability to have a truly immersive experience without being there in person increases schools’ flexibility in terms of what they can offer students.
Where you had to go to a certain place to fully understand a particular case study, virtual reality lets you do that in the classroom. This doesn’t necessarily mean completely replacing in-person experiences, plus it allows for more hands-on sessions.
At IE, the potential impact this can have on the student experience is only beginning to be realized, Begoña says.
“[In future] it will mostly be about giving learners the opportunity to experience things that could be very expensive and difficult to provide if you had to move them or put them in someone else’s shoes.
The future of virtual reality in the classroom
The variety of benefits and use cases that Begoña and his fellow working group members have uncovered ensure that IE plans to further integrate virtual reality into its program programs.
Today, teachers receive support on the materials to use and training on how best to integrate virtual experiences into their programs. Begoña maintains that the school is only at the beginning of its journey.
“My feeling is that more and more of these types of material are going to play a central role in the type of things that professors offer to students.
“I think it’s going to grow a lot, we still don’t have a clear idea of all the areas where we can do more.”
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