Is Virtual Reality the future of Online Learning? I Oxford Open Learning
Could Virtual Reality be the future of education?

Is Virtual Reality the future of Online Learning?

There are many reasons to be excited about the possibilities that the experience of Virtual Reality offers to online learners.

As current as the concept is, the first VR headset is reported as having been born of the 1960s, coined as the “Telesphere Mask” by inventor Morton Heilig. Today it is an immersive and interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment, experienced wearing a headset. It incorporates mainly auditory and visual feedback, occasionally providing other types of sensory feedback like haptic (such as touch). This creates an immersive environment that mimics real life. But how could VR transform the future of online learning? Let’s look at some possible applications to improve the learning environment…

The virtual classroom

Online learning can be a lonely place. However, with VR there’s no need for students to feel distant from their classmates and tutors. A virtual classroom would bring the benefits of a traditional one to their home, providing opportunities to engage with classmates and attract the attention of their tutor.

Real life simulations

The ability to experience and learn from real life scenarios in VR offers perhaps one of the most powerful enablers of positive change from immersive technologies. From crime scene investigation to first aid training and medical training including surgery, VR could (and is) providing opportunities to teach ‘hands on’ life-changing skills to learners.

Virtual field trips

That virtual field trip could take you literally anywhere in the world. Longing to walk the great Wall of China or visit the Amazon Rainforest? With VR this experience will feel real and immersive, with no need to leave the sofa and board a plane!

Even though at present the current application of VR technology to online education is at best a supplementary teaching tool rather than a primary teaching platform, some companies are making exciting leaps forward in the application of it for online learning. An example includes NASA astronauts who have trained for missions and simulated trips to Mars, all in VR.


For 9 real life examples, click on the link below.

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