Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have gained significant traction in education. “Virtual reality offers a digital recreation of a real life setting, while augmented reality delivers virtual elements as an overlay to the real world.” Teachers are harnessing VR and AR by using various types of goggles, apps, and phones to create environments that traverse the classroom walls. This has the potential to open doors to a variety of topics, geographic discovery, and experimentation that are typically inaccessible from the classroom. Additionally, VR/AR can increase accessibility and equality in educational experiences. As students become increasingly familiar with these technologies, it is critical that -like with all new technology- we reflect on the challenges and repercussions they may face.
To start the conversation, SET believes we must ask ourselves the following questions:
1. Can students use VR and AR as reliable research or observation tools?
If students can conduct research or run experiments with VR/AR what is the level of accuracy, precision, and reliability of the information relative to before adoption of the tool? We believe that it’s important for students to triangulate their data to confirm the information. We must provide students with tools to think critically about and analyze all data regardless of the source.
2. How can we ensure that students develop emotional intelligence while using VR and AR?
Educators do a great deal of work with students on emotional and social development in the classroom, at recess, at lunch, and during extracurricular activities. Are educators equipped to mitigate the social and emotional growth and changes that might occur while using these technologies? Educators who use VR/AR should implement checkpoints or reflection exercises into their curriculum to address social and emotional changes in new environments.
As more educational tools related to VR/AR are introduced into the market, we should not only spend our energy integrating them effectively into curricula but also continue to reflect on how these technologies change how students learn.