Education Technology or EdTech is the implementation of technology in the field of education to assist everyone involved. This includes the use of teaching aids like smart classrooms, projectors, and similar non-conventional instruments both in and outside classrooms.
Traditional System of Education
The Traditional means of education implies the learning experience restricted to books and classrooms. The student-teacher interaction during classes is the primary process involved in learning. The textbook and other forms of study material provide information as text and pictures. Apart from these, various teaching aids and references may also be used.
The traditional form of teaching also involves the distribution of homework assignments, projects, and research work to encourage self-study, and practical laboratories, workshops, and classes to provide them with hands-on experience.
This system has many shortcomings which render the education acquired through it insufficient for practical application. The main issue is the lack of interaction with the object or the environment under study. It is not possible to bring, say an ecosystem or a period of history within the confines of a classroom, and any attempt to replicate these will not have even a fraction of the actual impact.
This means that the students are forced to visualize the subject matter on their own. Only a fraction of the students can do this to the required extent, as most students will not have the ability to do so.
This is even more relevant in the area of Science and Technology. Many students who are visual or practical learners fail to take full advantage of their studies, as their preferred means of studying is not available to them. As a result, they fall behind and often fail to recognize their aptitude, or become unable to pursue it.
The emphasis on book and classroom learning in STEM fields is counterproductive, as the future opportunities in those fields require practical skills and knowledge.
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality
There are subtle differences between these three branches, but their core application remains the same. They are all used to create an experience of reality where it doesn’t exist.
Virtual Reality is perhaps the oldest of the lot and helps to create something out of nothing. The reality perceived by the senses is fully constructed from scratch, with the aid of digital technology. These are popular in the Gaming industry and have begun creeping into other fields as well, including Education.
Augmented Reality is a little different. As the name suggests, this technology augments reality by adding elements that are not present. AR has gained traction in Museums and Exhibits, Live Shows and fields like construction. The use of AR in these fields can directly be reproduced in the area of Education.
Mixed Reality is almost like a mix of both, and is thought to be a term developed by Microsoft to describe their new product Hololens. It has become acceptable in architecture for picturing projects which are underway.
Warping Reality: The new way of learning
AR, VR, and Mixed Reality seem to be the innovation that the sector has been looking for ages. These ideas can be used to solve the age-old crisis of seeing what you learn. VR and AR can both be used to create simulations or even wholly transform the ordinary classroom into a medieval battleground or the insides of a space shuttle. Instead of looking at maps, the entire class can virtually go wherever they want.
With the application of VR, you can eliminate the lack of visuals and interactive environments in classes. Students can now learn by interacting with different settings and objects, and also by simulation. Perception of their study topics will help them pick up more information and learn better.
AR and VR can also be used to take studies out of classrooms as well. Virtual Classes can be created to learn from your personal space, and they can also be programmed to offer realistic interaction experiences.
Though VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are all capable of revolutionizing the industry, there are many hurdles which holdback institutions from using them. The main problem that they face is the cost.
Integrating VR and AR into classrooms require special hardware like VRE headsets. They also need compatible software and very powerful computers to run them. Also, there is a lack of content that is VR friendly, and educational content is even less. They will have to be created according to the curriculum.
All these put a huge financial burden on the institutions. The initial setup costs prove to be too high for many institutions.
There is also a lack of awareness about this technology. However, more and more people coming forward to learn it will turn the situation around.
EdTech: The Time Is Now
The scope of VR, AR and Mixed Reality in EdTech is endless. There are studies and research on VR going on to make it cheaper and more user-friendly. This will make it more popular, and also accessible.
This paves the way for a lot of jobs for young, tech-savvy individuals as content curators, technicians, and other positions. This is the future that VR offers.
With a new age dawning on us, Education is changing. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality are set to be the future of this sector. They are setting new trends, taking education to heights never seen before.