Could virtual reality be the new classroom? Researchers are looking at ways the technology could be used for education

Virtual reality (VR) is now being touted as a powerful educational tool. In a recent experiment, students immersed themselves in a virtual simulation of the severe effects of ocean acidification. The participants displayed better grasp of the complex concept after completing the virtual lesson.

Based on these findings, researchers at the University of Oregon surmised that VR could help people learn more about the environment and other important topics. By allowing a learner to experience a simulation of an event or idea, a VR lesson could bring about a better understanding of the subject matter.

Editor’s note: This also sounds like a clever way to brainwash more children with globalist lies such as the entire climate change hoax. With VR tech, children can come to believe they are actually “experiencing” the propaganda, making it even more believable. The real question is: Who gets to decide what VR experiences children are subjected to? Let us not be naive about how tech has always been used to brainwash the masses with false information.

Just a decade ago, a virtual experience required a large and expensive facility to achieve its effects. For example, Sanford operated the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, which costs millions of dollars to build and run.

Nowadays, VR equipment are within easy reach of many consumers, who use their personal devices in the comfort of their own homes. This led to a number of concerns regarding excess use of VR.

Using virtual reality to make lessons more personal and “real” for students

For their experiment, the researchers cooperated with their counterparts at Stanford to use their VR facilities. They immersed more than 270 participants from different schools in Stanford’s Ocean Acidification Experience (SOAE) simulation.

The SOAE is a virtual simulation of its namesake, wherein the pH levels of seawater gradually increases due to pollution. The scenario greatly accelerated the process, which normally takes many years.

During these sessions, the participants assumed virtual identities in line with the scenario. Each participant played the role of a brightly colored coral that made up a part of a healthy coral reef.

As the virtual simulation progressed, the participants got to witness the effects of ocean acidification firsthand. The various marine organisms that lived in the coral reef eventually disappeared. Their places were taken up by ugly green algae and Salema porgy (Sarpa salpa), both of which are able to withstand acidic waters. The simulation ended with the disintegration of the virtual avatar that represented the participant.

“If ocean acidification continues, ecosystems like your rocky reef, a world that was once full of biological diversity, will become a world of weeds,” the narrator of the scenario concluded. (Related: Food scientists use VR to show how our perception of real food is altered by our surroundings.)

Lessons learned in virtual reality environments appear to stick around longer

The researchers reported that the virtual simulation succeeded in creating a connection between the participants and their virtual avatars. A number of the students moved their heads and bodies in accordance with what their coral avatars were experiencing at the same time.

After completing the simulation, the participants were asked questions about ocean acidification. Their scores increased by 150 percent when compared to students who didn’t undergo the VR scenario.

Several weeks later, the same participants were once more quizzed on the topic. The results of the follow-up tests showed that the students still remembered the lessons from the SOAE session.

Furthermore, the participants who spent longer times in the VR learning environment picked up more information about ocean acidification. They also remembered what they learned for much longer periods of time.

“Across age groups, learning settings and learning content, people understand the processes and effect of ocean acidification after a short immersive VR experience,” observed David Markowitz, the lead author of the study.

The researchers could offer no answer as to why a learning experience in virtual reality achieved better results compared to other media. They did observe that the participants were highly motivated when it came to trying out the simulation.

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