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Virtual Practice Makes Perfect

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Experiential Learning.

STEM. (Science, Technology,Engineering, and Math)

Digital Literacy.

Gamification.

These educational trends have been some of the most popular in the last decade. Classrooms have moved past the days of lectures, repetitive memorization, and frenzied note-taking. 

Current educational styles are now more focused on preparing learners for the practical aspects of actually using the materials that they are expected to master. Learning has become more holistic, encouraging users to see a problem or a scenario with a wider lens, rather than trying to force a handful of fragmented, hastily memorized details into a bigger picture. 

From grade-schools, to post-secondary institutions, to on-the-job training classrooms, instructors are reaching further than ever to provide learners with the best possible tools that will equip them to not only learn, but also retain and apply new information.

So… how in the world does this topic belong on the blog of an interactive company?

Glad you asked!

 

With the paradigm shift happening in how people learn, and the fact that educators are constantly pushing to find new ways to teach in our currently technocentric culture, Virtual Reality has found a place to shine in the world of education.

Imagine starting a new job in an industrial field. Your task is to repair large, expensive engines. In your training, you’ve read all the manuals, been shown all the parts, and watched several tutorials. And maybe you had the chance to practice a step or two, because practicing tasks were split up between you and your classmates due to availability of parts to practice on and the cost associated with too many people practicing with (and potentially breaking) expensive parts. At the end of your training, you’re still a bit of a greenhorn the first time you’re turned loose to work on your own. 

 

How confident are you?

As an employer, how confident would you be in this new employee? How do you feel about your ROI with an employee whose training has been so truncated?  

 

Now imagine starting that same job. You’re provided your own engine to work on. You can practice repairs again and again with the ability to start over instantly if something goes awry. You have the freedom to fail early and often with unlimited “do overs” until you feel comfortable. Parts are limitless and unbreakable. You have the ability to view your engine from the inside to see how the parts work together. You have one-on-one access to your instructor if you have questions, and you can collaborate with fellow students who are also working on their own individual engines. When you finish your training, you have countless repairs under your belt, but you can rest assured that your own personal practice engine is there waiting for you should you ever need further training.

 

How confident do you feel now?

How about as the employer?

 

This lofty aspiration is completely reachable and is happening right now with Virtual Reality! In a virtual environment, practice materials are limitless, mistakes are consequence-free (allowing dangerous tasks to be practiced from the safety of a VR headset), and hands-on drills can be reset again and again as needed with the touch of a button. Learners are no-longer bound to the physical classroom, but can meet virtually from across the globe to be taught by the best and brightest of their field. Because of its flexibility, the virtual classroom has untold potential as an educational conduit.  

One writer at TeachThought – an educational website focused on professional resources and curriculum development – put it this way: “The immersive nature of virtual reality brings depth to educational content by engaging the senses and allowing exploration to a degree that would be difficult to duplicate within the confines of a classroom, making it an ideal catalyst for curiosity and true learning.”

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The 7 Learning Styles are commonly agreed upon as: 

1)   Visual

2)   Aural

3)   Verbal

4)   Physical

5)   Logical

6)   Social

7)   Solitary

In a diverse group of learners with individual, distinct learning styles, Virtual Reality can cater to each person’s needs without sacrificing the education of the rest of the group. If one person needs to spend time alone with their materials to master a particular concept (Logical/Solitary/Physical), while another needs to discuss methods with the group (Verbal/Social), and still a third needs to just sit back and take in the discussion (Visual/Aural), all of these styles can be accommodated without the associated chaos of a live classroom. Need to process on your own for a minute? Mute your classmates while you ponder your materials. Need to examine something close up? You’ve got your own virtual materials that you don’t have to share. Need to practice a particular skill some more, but the rest of the group members needs to work on other skills? Reset your practice module again and again until you’ve mastered it.

We are currently facing a skills gap in industries that once expected years of apprenticeships before mastering a hands-on trade. The new generation of “digital natives,” now entering the workforce in droves, expect to learn new skills in their native ‘language’ via digital delivery. The generational divide between “digital natives” and the “digital immigrants” who can still clearly remember the days pre-internet is clear, but not difficult to bridge. With Virtual Reality, hands-on training CAN be delivered digitally, spanning the language barrier between generations. 

 

VisionThree, LLC (a.k.a. V3), is an interactive creative agency headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, USA. Focused on Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Touch interactive, we serve and support clients globally with innovative and immersive experiences. V3 specializes in creating experiences that engage, educate, and entertain. Please learn more at VisionThree.com.

Eric Davis