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Virtual Reality in education brings the future closer

Out of all the trends in e-learning right now, I have to say that I have a soft spot for Virtual Reality, or VR. The things that it allows you to do and/or see are astonishing. For example, who wouldn’t like to go and visit Mars without leaving the room? Or go inside one of Dali’s paintings? Or jump off a building without getting hurt? Ok, maybe not everyone would like the last one, but you get the idea.

Virtual Reality is an incredible use of technology that can be applied with success in almost any field. Initially, it was dedicated to the gaming industry, but now it has extended to other industries and we cannot ignore its uses in education.

Virtual Reality in Education

Virtual Reality has taken by storm the education field, and why wouldn’t it? It’s a great tool to engage students and its benefits are far more numerous than its shortcomings. Some popular uses of VR in educational topics include Biology, Geology, Architecture, Medical training, and many more.

This last one is my favorite, because I’m all for grooming better doctors. With the help of VR, medical students can now see the inside of a human body with all its organs, analyze each of them, and perform surgeries that simulate real life situations. Now if that’s not a great use of VR, I’m not sure what is.

I recently saw another nice use of VR from a company that does educational experiences. One of their simulations offers the ability to sit in a room with Einstein as he explains the theory of relativity. I don’t know about you, but I would take the opportunity to chat with Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, or Audrey Hepburn any day.

The benefits that Virtual Reality has in education are countless. First of all, VR works for students of all ages and it can be used for almost every teaching subject. Secondly, the student engagement that it creates it’s immeasurable. Students retain information better, they learn faster, they collaborate more, and they have the chance to go through a unique, fascinating learning experience.

Virtual Reality in your LMS

This may be a very ambitious thought, but imagine the possibilities of having VR as a built-in feature in an LMS.

Nowadays it’s very common for most schools to use some sort of LMS or learning platform for their school activities. So why not combine an amazing tool into a system that is used by students daily?

The logistics of it may seem hard to attain, but I dare say, not impossible. Considering the pace at which technology is evolving, this could be something LMS vendors might offer in their products pretty soon.

The first step would be for LMSs to support full VR courses. I’m not talking about a simulation of the solar system, but rather about a full course with lessons and assignments, all based on VR. Seems complicated right? Not necessarily. I mean, if Harvard can teach its most popular MOOC in VR, then there has to be a way for LMS vendors to support these type of classes in their products as well.

Classes don’t have to be fully in VR, but each lesson and/or assignment could have a part that represents a simulation. And I think this is the way things will start out. Vendors will offer to educators the ability to upload class materials that have VR parts, or maybe LMSs will have some built-in VR courses. Of course it would be even cooler to have the ability to track progress on VR classes, just as you would with regular class content in an LMS.

Now let’s take things further. What if there was some built-in Virtual Reality functionality in the LMS features? How would that work? Well, LMSs are quite different so it’s tricky to set some standards on what parts of an LMS should have VR components, but here’s a simple example that might work.

Most LMSs offer some sort of analytics and reports. Imagine that you could have an option to go into VR mode and visualize those analytics, use your fingers to move bars around, play around with the colors, sit or jump on pie charts, run more statistics, and so on. That would definitely make a boring task like running reports a lot more fun.

The possibilities that VR offers are endless and it’s fun to play around with different scenarios. Although getting these type of features into an LMS might seem too far-fetched right now, I do believe we will get there someday.

What about you? Can you think of other examples to integrate VR into an LMS?

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