OPINION: COVID-19 makes VR in education the new normal

by | Apr 28, 2020 | Headlines, Opinion

Alina Zorina

The COVID-19 pandemic trapped most of the world inside their houses and made humanity review a conventional style of life.

Throughout the history of pandemics, people improved medicine and other related areas in the sciences to stop the spread of deadly diseases.

These changes didn’t affect the education system. The way students obtain their knowledge is very similar to the one that existed in Ancient Greece.

For many centuries, teachers or tutors have been providing information in person, standing in front of a class of students. Such a system is problematic during quarantines or lockdowns of schools, cities and whole countries.

Nevertheless, technological progress should have allowed changing traditional methods of teaching when the first programmable general-purpose electronic digital computer appeared in 1945.

And it should have happened when the first global internet connection was made in 1994, but it hasn’t.

Technology advanced by leaps and bounds since the end of the 20th century, developing and improving high-tech devices.

Yet, only the isolation caused by COVID-19 made the world reconsider the most efficient ways of providing information to students. Most of the classes have been moved to online using different video platforms allowing for virtual classrooms.

However, many students find remote education challenging and sometimes confusing. The time they would usually spend on assignments doubles because of the online regime. 

Furthermore, virtual classes cannot provide the same level of practical skills required in real life.

Then what is the solution?

Journalism student Tillana Desai tests out a VR headset that will be emerging into the journalism industry. (Noman Sattar)

The answer is simple: virtual reality (VR), a simulated experience that is similar or completely different from our reality.

Students getting information through VR experience a full presence and it increases the chances of obtaining more efficient skills.

The VR Education Engage platform is used to provide remote classes, training and even virtual events. Some Humber programs had been using VR in its classrooms before the pandemic.

Students get an opportunity to learn from the best teachers and practice in virtual laboratories. They will also get access to the best equipment and all of it’s possible while staying home.

VR could make it possible to continue practicing non-essential surgeries for medical students due to a virtual reality program.

Dr. Danny Goel, an orthopaedic surgeon at Burnaby General Hospital, created Precision OS, a cutting-edge VR program, which enables students to practice in a virtual environment.

The technology notifies participants if they put an implant or a retractor in the wrong position and provides feedback.

The program will be available for residents of the orthopaedics program at the University of British Columbia in mid-May.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) is launching Canadian Geographic Education‘s #OnlineClassroom to support teachers, parents and students during the pandemic.

The program provides students from Grades 4 to 12 with augmented and virtual reality experiences about the world and the history of the location they live in.

Students can use smartphones or tablets, and watch 360-degree VR movies online or through VR headset.

The world changes rapidly and people — and educational institutions — should take advantage of all available resources such as VR because it’ll be the new normal.