VR for universities: preparing real professionals

Why VR can significantly improve students' professional knowledge

VR for universities: preparing real professionals

Modern educational materials, both paper and digital, often remind us of familiar school textbooks. Most "innovative" manuals do not have visual improvements or interactive features, leaving students mostly bored. If at the same time the teacher cannot present the material in an interesting, unusual way, it is difficult for students to immerse themselves in the learning process: they do not perceive the information or do not want to study at all.

Effective motivation of students to learn is one of the most important ways to improve the quality of education. Virtual reality technologies can radically change the idea of learning.

The effectiveness of VR education

To test the success of using VR technology in education, a study was conducted in Beijing called “The Impact of VR on Academic Performance”. Two groups of students were taught the same discipline. However, one group - in the classical form, the other - using virtual reality technology. According to the results of testing at the end of the experiment, the first group achieved 73% success, and the second - 93%.

There is also a well-known example from Yale University, where students successfully tested VR training for gallbladder surgery. VR users were 29% faster and made six times fewer mistakes. These examples are not the only ones. VR training is effective because virtual reality training is based on immersive technologies that allow you to better perceive and understand the surrounding reality. That is, technology literally immerses a person in a given environment.

The use of virtual reality technologies in education allows:

• make learning materials understandable and interesting for students

• achieve full immersion in the learning process through 3D visualization and gamification elements

• reduce the impact of distractions that prevent the perception of information

• explain phenomena and objects that are difficult to understand.

Application of VR technologies for student education

Lectures and practical exercises using VR can significantly increase class attendance for engineering students. For example, the implementation of virtual reality technology into course design classes makes it possible to adapt the educational material, to make it easier for students to perceive all the subtleties of designing complex machines and mechanisms.

Most experts note that it is the training of physicians and engineers with the help of VR programs that will give the most noticeable effect soon. Future medical students use VR to study anatomy and train to perform surgeries. For example, intern students can practice the principles of general practice before moving on to an internship and meeting real patients.

The University of Westminster is using VR to teach criminal law students. Instead of the theoretical knowledge of the traditional method, students can investigate a crime in the virtual world, collect evidence and interview witnesses. This method provides an opportunity to get practical experience that is comparable to the experience in the real world.

Virtual reality technology in higher education is actively used to train soft skills. The advantage of this method is that students learn from experience. For future employment, students need real practice to successfully pass the interview, which cannot be achieved using traditional teaching methods. You can read about the use of virtual reality technology for candidates in our article. In addition to the practice of passing interviews, VR can help students overcome their fear of public speaking. Students can practice speaking in front of a virtual audience and even practice answering questions.

3D visualization

3D technologies in education make it possible to diversify lectures, make the educational process effective and visually voluminous. Thanks to VR technologies, students can get understanding of ​​things that could not be seen before. Virtual space allows you to explore in detail objects and processes that are impossible or very difficult to see in the real world. For example, the anatomical features of the human body, the operation of different mechanisms, very small or very large objects. Flights into space, diving hundreds of meters under water, traveling through the human body - VR opens tremendous opportunities.

To solve one of these problems, Columbia University conducts classes on the study of the structure of molecules using virtual reality technology. Students can walk, view and manipulate 3D molecular models. One of the students noted that the 3D model of the protein helped him better understand the chemical processes.

Solutions for correspondence and distance learning

As we have already said, VR technologies in the educational process can give a significant increase in the effectiveness of training. However, in relation to higher education, one can speak of global advantages. For example, VR helps finally solve a few problems related to the quality of correspondence and distance learning.

According to the US Department of Education, in 2017, 63 percent of undergraduates who worked and were enrolled full time and 88 percent of those who worked and were enrolled part time worked more than twenty hours per week.

Most students study university programs on their own and come to the university only for credit events and exams. This format of specialist training has low student involvement and lack of motivation. VR technologies at universities will help equalize the quality of immersion in full-time and part-time education. In addition, VR technologies will significantly improve the quality of online classes, because the teacher and students will be able to be in the same, albeit virtual, room and, thanks to this, interact better.

This type of training is already in use. One example is a new learning model within a course at Stanford University. In it, teachers meet with students exclusively in virtual reality. The project involved 263 students who received VR headsets, and the classes themselves consisted of VR tours, group discussions and other activities.

It should be noted that VR technologies are not only headsets designed for students to perceive information, it is also an opportunity for a teacher to interact with students. The teacher receives a signal from the student displays, launching the materials and monitoring the progress of their study. The teacher can also become part of the virtual reality to explain what is going on or draw the attention of the students to some details.

Virtual Internships

Virtual reality technologies are also being used so that students can get to know different professions better and choose what suits them. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology has a program that allows participants to “live through” a work day with typical tasks in one of several professions: fisherman, wind turbine electrician, road worker, auto mechanic, welder. Also, the university has developed a VR app that allows you to pass a test interview for a job.

VR for applicants

Major universities each year recruit hundreds of students from other cities or countries. Not all applicants and their families have the opportunity to visit the campus of the university that is being considered for admission. This problem can be solved by virtual reality. Future students can walk around the courtyard of the future university, go to a local cafe, or inspect the living conditions in a dormitory. For such use of VR technology, the 360-video format is more suitable, where in the headset the applicant will be able to see the future alma mater without embellishment, as it is.

Soulaymane Kachani, Senior Vice Provost of Columbia University in the USA, believes that the current decade will be a turning point in the history of the development of virtual reality technologies. They will enter and enrich our daily lives in the same way that smartphones and the Internet of Things did in the 2010s. VR technologies are already finding numerous applications in education.

Traditional education is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Active learning methods come to the fore, which provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in the learning process. Students themselves analyze the information, develop criteria and possible ways to solve educational problems in accordance with the goal set by the teacher. There is no doubt that virtual technologies will only improve and expand in the direction of education. The implementation of VR technology will not only diversify the experience of students, but will also significantly increase the availability of quality education.

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