First person embodiment virtual reality training activates brain networks to help you identify more with others. CREDIT: de Borst et al., eNeuro 2020.

How can VR be best used in education?

VR is best used in educations for:

  1. Immersive and experiential learning
  2. Bringing people together who are geographically far apart
  3. Evoking empathy

Immersive and experiential learning – many people agree that experiential learning is the most effective way to learn. VR allows this to happen by successfully tricking the brain into thinking it’s seeing the virtual as reality, making us think that we are learning by experience. My favourite VR apps for experiential learning are:

a) Public Speaking VR – if you want to improve your communication skills, practice for a speech, interview, or sales pitch, you can use this app to trick your mind into thinking you’re speaking in front of a real crowd rather than the photo-realistic audiences and avatars in the app. It also provides instant feedback on hesitation words, volume of voice and pace so you can continually improve.

b) Sites in VR -you can take a virtual tour of landmarks across the world. The images are really high quality so it’s easy to forget you’re still in a classroom or living room.

c) Titans of Space – you can go on a virtual tour of the solar system. Who would’ve thought experiential learning about space was even possible?

Go on a virtual tour of our solar system.

Bringing people together – collaborating with other learners, other classes, and other schools can be a whole lot easier. As another comment mentions, imagine learning a language and being able to meet up with a native speaker of that language in a number of seconds. VR has the ability to make the world smaller and accessible.

Evoking empathy – people relate more to people and situations which they understand, and therefore have often had first-hand experience with. This could help charities to educate people about the reality of the situation that they are trying to help. For example, Alzheimer’s UK released a VR app called A Walk Through Dementia that puts the user in the position of someone living with Alzheimer’s. This creates a deeper understanding of the disease and how it affects sufferers.

Hopefully this list will keep growing the more the VR industry develops!