The world we are living in comes up with new innovations and inventions each day. And one such innovation is virtual reality and artificial intelligence. The fast growth of technology has surpassed everything else. Each day, we see news of AI achieving new heights.
Almost everything is possible through AI these days. It can give you the answers that you seek. It can make presentations for you. AI video editing software is also being used these days. Now that we are using it for everything else, why not use virtual and augmented reality to improve education and training?
We can certainly do so. Efforts are being made to make learning easier using such technologies. But, before we discuss that in detail, let us take a look at the growth of the education system over the years.
Education System Through the Years
1. Education in the Early Days
In the early days of education, knowledge was mostly provided orally. It was a practical kind of education, which believed in action. Written exams were not the focus of the earlier education system.
In India, gurukuls and ashramas were present where students used to go, in order to learn. Knowledge was imparted through verbal means. We can see instances of it in scriptures and old stories.
2. The Traditional Method of Education
We then moved on to a written mode of education. Blackboards and such were used by the teachers to write. The learning became a bit easier as students could see the written word. The brain processes a combination of verbal and visual cues better than just verbal methods.
Teachers could now make use of available resources to impart education in an easier way.
3. Modern Education
With the progress of technology and the emergence of the IT revolution, the way education was perceived saw a change. Rather than just chalk-and-duster learning, education was looked at with a more holistic approach.
Education also became much more accessible. Online learning has seen huge growth over the last few years. If you go on YouTube and search for any topic that you want to learn, there is a very high chance that you will find at least one video on the same topic.
A lot of content creators online are providing free and quality education to students. Even school learning has become much more fun.
Rather than treating education as a chore, students are being motivated to enjoy it. A lot of schools have installed smartboards. They can help because, if suppose there is a difficult topic, videos can be shown on the same.
Of course, modern education too comes with its own faults. At the end of the day, videos don’t provide an immersive experience.
This brings us to our main discussion for today. How can AI, AR, and virtual reality be used to improve training and education? Let us discuss
What Exactly is Augmented Reality?
Since most of our discussion today will be based on these two words, it is important to define their exact meaning. Investopedia defines augmented reality as follows:
“Augmented reality is an interactive experience in which a real-world environment is enhanced with computer-generated visual elements, sounds, and other stimuli. It can provide a user with a heightened, more immersive experience than they would experience otherwise that adds to the user’s enjoyment or understanding”
To keep it simple, Augmented Reality is what binds the real-world environment with technology, to provide life-like experiences.
It is different from virtual reality in the sense that virtual reality is entirely computer generated.
Augmented reality is highly used by retailers worldwide. When you go online to purchase a product and see the option to try on the product in a real-life scenario, that’s augmented reality.
AR is also used in various games. One such game that was widely popularized was Pokémon Go. Even though that game had some negative impacts, it showed the powers of AR.
Thus, augmented reality is not a new concept. It isn’t a newly discovered phenomenon. A lot of research has been done on its uses and applications. Therefore, using it for training and education is not an unreachable goal.
Let’s now discuss some ways in which this technique can be implemented in education.
1. 360-degree View
Virtual reality will give students a 360-degree view of a situation. Modern education makes use of videos and pictures to aid learning. Virtual reality will take this to a whole nother level.
We know that VR helps you feel immersed in a particular scenario. Think for a moment, about the application of the same in education. Imagine your boring history lessons. Now think, of the same stories but in the form of virtual reality. It would be like looking through a Pensieve, but better. You might get to experience the events as they occurred.
A lot of times, students remember what they saw in a movie more than what they learned in a book. VR would be a similar experience. It would be like experiencing a movie, not just watching it.
Thus, virtual reality can be extremely helpful, when you want to learn subjects that come with a story. The immersive experience would make for an amazing learning experience. It would provide a much more realistic feel to education.
2. Virtual Tours
So, we spoke about how Virtual reality will provide an immersive experience, helping us to feel the stories. The technology can also be used as a means for providing virtual tours all over the world. Whether you are learning about a historical monument or space, there would be an option to actually experience it.
You can visit places around the world, while not even moving to the next-door building. It would certainly be a revolution in the field of education.
3. Real-life Experiences
Practical education can be highly improved by using augmented and virtual reality. This is because you can use virtual reality to provide real-life experiences. So, let’s suppose you are a business student.
Augmented and virtual reality can then be used to generate real-life scenarios. This means actual market conditions. These conditions could include problem situations that a businessman would need to solve.
It would be a step above roleplaying. This would also help judge how a person reacts and responds to a high-stress situation. A student would get to experience things as they actually happen and not just in bookish terms.
4. Improve Communication Skills
AR can also be used to improve one’s communication skills. For example, when you want to practice public speaking, you can create for yourself a space full of people.
It would be a great help for people who face stage fright. This is because by using AR they can familiarize themselves with the situation at hand. Even without stage fright, it kills no one to gain a little practice.
Even one on one communication skills can be improved using AR. This is because there would not be any fear of judgment with a technological device. Usually, when people fear communicating, it is because they are afraid of the response they’ll get. AR can help eliminate that fear as a person can practice communicating in various different scenarios.
6. Improve Vision
Augmented and virtual reality can be extremely helpful in creative fields of study. This is because it allows you to see the vision in your mind come to life. Through Augmented reality, people in architectural fields can see how their design would look in a real-life scenario.
This is a great improvement over the 3D models currently being used. An overall image would make it easier to find mistakes in your model. This would lead to the creation of better and safer projects overall.
7. Aid in E-learning
The coronavirus pandemic affected the world population in various ways. Schools and training institutions were shut down during the lockdown. This led to people shifting towards an online mode of education.
Students were being taught through Zoom calls and Google Meets. This led to a loss of touch with the real learning environment. Even though teaching online was convenient, it had negative impacts as well.
Many people found it difficult to understand things this way. A lot of students slacked off too as there could not be any control over what a person did. The quality of the study deteriorated. It also had a negative impact on the mental health of various people.
Using AR in online education can help create a more immersive learning environment. Students can get the feel of studying in a physical institution from the safety of their homes. It would lead to improvement in the way online education works. Teachers would also feel motivated to teach if they have an eager student population.
8. Job Selection
Another great application of AR and VR can be that it would help students select a future career path. Many people are confused about what they want to do in the future. Even while pursuing a course, it may be difficult to be sure if you would enjoy the occupation.
AR can help because students can imagine themselves in a particular work scenario. They would get to understand the requirements of the job at a deeper level.
9. Easy Access
If the technology develops enough, it can be made available to a large number of people. Having devices that use AR and virtual reality would give ease of education. It would also help eliminate the need for textbooks and printed brochures as everything can be stored in one single device.
The wide availability of technology would make it a cheaper source of gaining education. It would also be a one-time investment. Currently, we need to purchase books for every different course we take. Through AR devices it would be possible to just have everything together.
10. Emotional Reactions
Using AR, education providers can see the emotional reactions of students regarding certain things. By this, we mean that the way students are reacting toward a particular way of teaching can be judged.
It is possible to judge what someone is liking, through the pupil and eye movements. AR and virtual reality help to understand that. It is beneficial as the teachers can get an idea about what should be preferred in the future. The methods that have a negative response can be eliminated.
Educational institutions can also use this if they decide to lay off teachers. It would be a fair and easy way of judgment.
11. Use in Professional Training
The biggest use of augmented and virtual reality can be in training for professional courses. It would be a great help for pilots and astronauts. It can help them experience their actual work. Simulations can be made regarding the different conditions that they might face. It would be a great way of training with complete safety as well.
Even people in military training can gain from using AR and virtual reality. They would be put in pressure scenarios where they need to act immediately. This is extremely helpful as these people need to be prepared for such situations. People in the military can also be put in harsh weather conditions to familiarize themselves with it.
Current Applications of AR and VR in Education and Training
Let us now discuss how AR and virtual reality are currently applied in education.
- Zspace: it is a technology firm based in California. It provides elements of Augmented and virtual reality in a computer. Users can see content through a 3D computer screen. The unique thing about it is that it does not require the use of a head-mounted display or glasses.
- Nearpod: This application provides a real-time understanding of student insights. It provides interactive videos, and gamification all in one single platform.
- Discovery VR: It is a program that allows you to watch 360-degree films. There is information about wildlife, nature, and space. It is beneficial as the user can focus on various different things each time they watch a program. This is beneficial for holistic learning. It also facilitates a deeper understanding of the subject material.
- Arility: This software explores another important quality of learning through AR. It helps teach how to act in times of danger. Thus, this application can be helpful when a person is trying to learn self-defense. It will generate situations where a person would be put in such a scenario. This is helpful so that someone does not panic in a situation like this.
- Nanome: It is a virtual reality software for molecular modeling. It also aids in collaborative drug design. This software allows you to visualize chemical components and how they would react with other elements. It is a safe process for making new discoveries and creating helpful medications.
- Mondly: This is software that would aid in learning languages. You can communicate with people from different parts of the world virtually. Talking to them would make it easier to learn about new languages and cultures.
What Does This Mean?
We can observe that augmented reality and virtual reality are already being used in various walks of education. Current software exists for almost everything. Whether it be 360-degree learning, self-defense, or exploring different places.
This is a good indicator for us. The technology already exists. There is no need for excess spending on research and development to figure out how this would work. The basic structure already exists with us.
The growth of AI has been unsurpassable. Each day we see new technology development. We can definitely assume that better software programs promoting Augmented reality and VR will develop as more time passes.
What Then, is the Issue?
So yes, the technology exists. The main problem here though, is how will the technology be made accessible to all.
Inequality still exists in the world in all areas of life. There are clearly sections of society that are marginalized. They still lack the resources that are available to other people. A lot of educational institutions are underfunded, which would make it difficult for them to adapt to such technologies.
Thus, the first thing that can be done is to address the issue of funds. Middlemen should be eliminated. This would help as the funds would reach the people and institutes who require it. Resource allocation should be done optimally, keeping in mind the existing situation of an institute.
Training should also be given to teachers. This is because they should be able to use this technology themselves. Marginalized groups are usually behind in the adoption of new techniques. It is thus important that they are taught the usage so that the development is equal.
Internet availability should also be focussed on. Various areas do not have proper internet and electricity availability. These issues need to be worked upon.
All of this will ensure that the world sees growth as a whole. Providing resources to just one section of society would be no help. Overall development would result in better minds and better competition. The future of the society will be better.
Thus, we can see that there is immense growth potential when it comes to using Augmented reality and virtual reality for education and training.
It can prove helpful to learn various things. When the technology further develops in the future, it would be possible to have the availability of such resources at a cheaper price. We need to be inclusive and develop technologies that can be used by all.
Augmented reality would make learning a fun experience. Students would be interested to learn new things. It would also help get rid of the problem of learning, just for the sake of it and in order to pass exams. Students will also become better decision-makers.
If the education is good, the consecutive quality of life will also be improved. We will see better businessmen, better scientists, and overall better professionals.
Thus, it is important to focus and achieve great heights by making use of the technology we have. It would make the world a better place to live in.
A Small Discussion
Before we end this article, I would like to have a small discussion on Artificial intelligence and its impact. We are constantly talking about how AI can be used to improve different areas of life. We also need to be clear though, on how much we want to include AI in our lives.
With the introduction of applications like ChatGPT and video editing software, a lot of things can be done through technology. These are all activities that used to require creative human input. Even with the use of AR for learning, it is highly possible that the role of teachers would be reduced to minimal or almost zero.
We need to decide if we want that. If human beings start relying too much on such technology, their own job could become redundant. We would require almost half the people that were originally required for a particular job. This figure would only reduce. Who does this benefit?
The economy will suffer as jobs would be lost. It is thus important that we limit the use of AI. Yes, it has multiple benefits, nobody can deny that. But at the end of the day, the future of the world should also be kept in mind. We cannot become slaves to technology. Humans should not forget to protect their own interests, for short-term gratification.