How to use VR to educate children?
The education system is one of the foundations of any state. What awaits us in the future depends entirely on how children are prepared for this future.
The rapid development of technology could not but affect the educational process. Although virtual reality technology is no longer something new, it is used in education recently. In this article, we will consider all the variety of possibilities of virtual reality for children's education.
Problems of teaching children
Many problems of poor progress in elementary school students are associated with the physiological and psychological characteristics of the development of children of this age and the beginning of strengthening the nervous system. In particular, psychologists describe the attention of younger students as involuntary, unstable, short-term. Young children still do not know how to concentrate on work for a long time, especially if it is not interesting and monotonous, their attention is easily distracted.
During adolescence, the development of the nervous system continues. The perception of a teenager is more purposeful, planned and organized than the perception of a younger student. In middle school age, students have a characteristic feature of attention - a specific selectivity, when a teenager prefers to choose activities that are interesting for him or lessons on which they can concentrate for a long time.
In both cases, it is extremely important in the lesson to be able to interest the child so that the teacher keeps his attention on the educational material for a sufficient time. Ordinary lessons, memorization of textbooks and even educational videos have certain limitations and have not surprised students for a long time. On the other hand, VR training does an excellent job of involving the child in the educational process. Children's initial attention is captured by an interesting, progressive learning method, and then interest is maintained by dynamic, interactive educational content.
Using VR technologies at home
For home use, as a rule, game models of VR headsets are purchased for children. However, such models may also include educational content. For example, the Merge VR headset is compatible with Google expeditions, National Geographic, NASA, and other apps. On many models, you can also watch educational videos via Youtube.
Use of VR technologies in schools
Virtual reality technology in schools has almost limitless potential. Many school subjects, especially natural sciences and social sciences are effectively complemented by visualizations using a VR headset.
The application of VR technologies in this area has great potential for implementation. Such a science as history, in addition to historical events, also includes information on the organization of life, the culture of past generations, the formation and extinction of states, the biographies of historical figures and much more.
Description of past events in textbooks does not convey the exact atmosphere of that time, and the video does not give such a sense of participation. While the use of virtual reality technology can completely immerse you in the past. So, for example, a student can participate in the first landing on the moon with the crew of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, measure strength with athletes at the First Olympic Games in 776 BC or excavate the tomb of Tutankhamen. At the same time, the whole process of immersion in the situation can be accompanied by a lecture, mini-games or small tasks.
In addition, virtual reality technology can be used in 360° video format. Using this format, you can go on excursions to historical museums or show ancient architecture that is located on the other side of the planet.
One of the tasks of geography as a science is to form in children a holistic view of the diversity of the world, which, due to the remoteness of other countries, is not an easy task. With the help of virtual reality technology, a child can travel around the world and get acquainted with natural conditions, cultures of different countries. In this case, different training formats are possible - both a completely virtual environment and a 360° video format.
With the help of a VR headset, a student can perform a ritual in an African tribe, visit an oil rig, or independently assemble our planet from the geospheres of the Earth. The process of the birth of the universe, the cotton harvest by the inhabitants of Central Asia and the wildlife of the jungle - all this can be stored in one VR headset and launched in a matter of minutes. Each lesson using such teaching materials will leave a lasting impression on every child.
Chemistry is a very interesting subject, but at the same time, the learning process is severely limited by safety considerations and the availability of the necessary materials. So, for example, some chemical elements after entering the human body cause various health problems, so we can only study this in theory. Also, the school laboratory may not have certain chemical elements or equipment due to its inaccessibility or high cost. Using virtual reality technology, educators can solve both of these problems at once.
Boring sections of chemistry, which are difficult to present in an interesting way, with the help of VR headsets can become one of the most exciting. Students can study the structure of molecules, assemble a molecule of matter from atoms with their own hands, and then carry out a chemical reaction, getting a new substance. All this time, children will be immersed in the process as much as possible, while being safe from the possible negative influence of some chemical elements.
In addition, the 360° video format also provides new opportunities in school learning. For example, with the help of a virtual tour, students can see with their own eyes a nuclear reactor, where many chemical elements are created artificially.
Physics, like chemistry, has its limitations. Experiments require special equipment of the cabinets, which for some reason may not be available. In addition, many physical processes are inaccessible to the human eye. In virtual reality, you can demonstrate the action of physical laws, where students can influence it themselves. The 360° video format is also applicable to this science. Every child will be impressed by seeing the Large Hadron Collider with their own eyes.
Other school subjects
As you can already understand, virtual reality technology is applicable to many areas of science. Other subjects such as mathematics, astronomy, literature, geometry, ecology, and many others can also use virtual reality technology. By purchasing VR headsets for a school, it is possible to create a VR app for any school subject. If there is no specific visual content in the discipline that could be shown in VR, then in the headset you can, for example, solve equations or build geometric shapes. This approach will captivate students much more than classic textbook lessons. In addition, as mentioned earlier, students can be tested in virtual reality.
Knowledge assessment system
In addition to educational content, VR technology also does a great job of measuring the knowledge gained. After each session in the VR app, students can take small tests or interactive tasks. The results obtained are transferred to the database, from where the teacher can download the information in any convenient format. Class or individual student performance analytics can be displayed in an infographic format, such as a graph. At the same time, the learning progress of each student can be stored in his personal account and be available not only to teachers, but also to parents.
Is VR Safe for Kids?
For the use of most modern devices there are time limits for use. For example, after every hour of working at the computer, all people are advised to take breaks of 10-15 minutes. This is also true for the use of a VR headset, regardless of the age of the user. Therefore, the answer to the question about the safety of virtual reality for children is yes.
In 2019, Osaka University of Japan School of Medicine conducted a study on eye fatigue felt before and after training a visual task using a virtual reality display (VR-HMD) as well as a two-dimensional (2D) display. As a result of the experiment, the scientists concluded that the subjective assessment of visual fatigue of the subjects did not differ significantly. A medical examination of the users' eyes also did not show any major changes.
In addition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology published an entry on its website:
Although there are no long-term studies, ophthalmologists agree there is no reason to be concerned that VR headsets will damage eye development, health, or function. Age limitations for VR technology might make sense for content, but as far as we know this technology poses no threat to the eyes.
Most modern VR headsets have the ability to adjust the focal length and distance between the pupils and are also equipped with lenses that block blue light. However, with prolonged use without interruption, being in virtual reality can lead to dry and tired eyes. Since children are sometimes unable to track unpleasant symptoms, adults need to ensure that the child's stay in virtual reality is no longer than 1 hour. After every hour of using the VR headset, child need to take breaks of about 10-20 minutes. It is important to note that during the break for the child, access to other devices with monitors should be limited.
Age restrictions of using virtual reality
Virtual reality is not dangerous if used in moderation and in a safe environment. Before using a VR headset, parents or educators should make sure that the headset is appropriate for the child's age, and that the play area is clear of furniture and safe. In contrast to the use of virtual reality by adults, in addition to health safety considerations, children's headsets must also be well suited to the physiological parameters of the child's body.
Among companies of VR headsets, there is no consensus on the age limit for the use of virtual reality. A significant difference can be traced between the recommendations of companies of gaming and universal models. For example, the Heromask VR headset is recommended for children aged 5 to 12, while the Discovery headset is recommended for children aged 8 and up. A feature of such headsets is a specific target audience, which is why their size is smaller, and the basic content is selected specifically for children.
On the other hand, there are products in the VR headset market that have higher requirements for the age of users. Leaders in the production of universal headsets indicate the following restrictions:
• Samsung Gear VR: not recommended for users under 13 years of age.
• Google Daydream View: not recommended for users under 13 years of age.
• Sony PlayStation VR: not recommended for users under 12 years of age.
• HTC Vive: HTC doesn't specify an age, but advises young children not to use the product.
• Oculus Quest: not recommended for users under 14 years of age.
• Pico Neo: not recommended for users under 12 years of age.
The reason for these limitations is that the target audience for such VR headsets is primarily adults. Therefore, VR headsets from these companies are not suitable for young children.
Many experts are confident that over the next 5 years we will see a wide use of virtual reality technologies in the educational sector. Of course, so far there is no need to talk about the conducting of entire school lessons completely using VR. However, assigning a part of the lesson to it is more than realistic and is already being practiced in some schools. Thus, we are gradually getting closer to the new progressive school education.
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