The landscape of education is changing with our generation, and it’s changing fast. More than ever, researchers and prominent figures in the education space have been highlighting the fact that kids need real, hands-on engagement with material to not only retain information, but actually enjoy learning.
According to educational psychology research by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, young brains associate emotional experiences with the informational input that is being fed into their sensory system at the same time (Emotions, Learning and the Brain). It is emotions that serve as a sort of gateway to unlocking their ability to apply this information in different contexts. Research on emotions has been neglected for a long time in the field of psychology, and these breakthroughs have gone to show just how important it is for us to dive into further research on the science of feelings, especially in the realm of education.
By using extended reality, we can create these meaningful and emotional experience for children, in a more accessible and democratized way. With the technology we have today, kids can be transported to different worlds through just a tap on their phone screen. They can look at real-size dinosaurs and monuments with Google’s AR filter. The possibilities are endless… schools just need to take advantage of them.
One way that extended reality is being used is for simulations. In science especially, it is integral that students learn through doing. What would a Chemistry class be without acid-base titrations? What would a Physics class be without kinematics and momentum labs? You get the point. But, there’s a limit to the types of experiments kids can do- whether it be due to lack of funding or that it just plainly would not be possible in a classroom environment. With extended reality, there is almost no limit to what kinds of experiences we can create for students. A really simple example of XR in use by schools is the Froggipedia AR app. It allows students to dissect virtual frogs and take a closer look at each individual organ if they would like (Forbes).
Another application of extended reality is as an alternative to field trips. Sites like CYARK and Google Arts & Culture offer free access to VR walkthroughs and 360 degree videos to educators everywhere (Google Arts and Culture). This is a convenient yet still immersive way to expand students’ knowledge of the world.
If the pandemic has taught us anything about our education system, it’s that learning is inevitably becoming further and further intertwined with technology. Online school is not a temporary part of education, rather it is a revolutionary opportunity for many people to attain access to quality resources. XR tech can be used to really change the way kids learn for the better, especially when integrating learning with play.