By Praveen Gupta, Mar 28, 2022 10:00
Higher education across the world, including India, is gradually turning to digital technology to improve the way the teachers teach and the students learn. As the use of digital technology gradually becomes commonplace, the concept of interactive learning instead of the traditional one-way learning is taking centre stage and Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are increasingly pushing higher education into the experiential, immersive realm.
While education was a one-sided affair and rote learning the only way to success some two decades ago, education is seeing customisation depending on the needs of students with teachers increasingly playing the role of learning facilitators. Education is becoming more interactive, immersive with increasing use of simulation, 3D imagery and advanced audio-visual effects to boost learning outcomes. It is against this backdrop that AR and VR are fast gaining currency as the preferred modes of teaching and learning. AR and VR both have their own advantages, but the two modes are not similar. AR is a combination of real and virtual worlds. It is an enhanced version of objects residing in the real physical world and is achieved through the use of various sensory stimuli like sound, digital visual elements and delivered through technology.
VR involves the creation of a virtual environment with the help of computer technology. Simply put, VR is the name given to computer technology which makes a person feel as if they are inhabiting a different world, a different reality. VR employs software to create sounds and produce images to create a different place, a different word of which the user feels s/he is a part of.
Both the technologies provide students with tremendous benefits, the most important being deeper understanding and improved learning. The immersiveness, interactiveness and the 360-degree perspective provided by these technologies helps students in understanding complex concepts better. Moreover, these technologies allow for a gamification of learning, thereby making the learning process fun and interesting.
The use of AR and VR in education promotes self-learning and self-sufficiency among students and is of great help to students with learning difficulties. Apart from being a great learning tool, these technologies eliminate language barriers, facilitate contextualised and responsive learning, and contribute to creating more inclusive classrooms.
In present times, when quite a large number of students are studying online, AR and VR make remote learning engaging and interesting, and improve retention of material.
Studies have found that students remember 90% of the material if it is learned through experience, thereby confirming that AR and VR are massively improving the complete learning process.
Although AR and VR are not new technologies, their actual adoption has been prevented by several constraints, the most important barrier being prohibitive cost. However, with the availability of affordable hardware, including smartphones, and software these technologies have become more viable and desirable in the field of education.
The nature of these technologies promises new ways of teaching and learning which are better suited to meet the needs of the current and, possibly, the future crop of learners. With AR and VR emerging as the tools of choice, it is time that we say goodbye to the traditional way of teaching and learning and move on hand-in-hand with technology.
Praveen Gupta, Principal, Rukmini Devi Public School, Sonepat. Views expressed are personal.