[Part 4 of the VR in Education series, “In Education We Need To Do More Than Sharpen Existing Tools.”]

STEM Lab - zSpace

Could virtual reality (VR) technologies be a true game-changer in our education systems? Despite the high-growth market projections, all indications point toward VR taking a while to make its way into classrooms as solution providers develop best practices for integration and school systems adopt the new pedagogy. Educators know that rote memorization of text is a failed approach.  Even teachers who strive to integrate YouTube and Netflix curricula see the limitations because of the way the knowledge is transferred; while information is provided, the ability to immerse oneself in the world of another and interact is something that video cannot provide.

As a champion of STEM education, particularly nanoscience STEM, I’m delighted to share a sneak peek of my third panelist, Mr. Pete Johnson, VP of Business Development at zSpace, Inc., who is joining me at Virtual Reality Summit  in New York, April 11-12. Johnson agrees that virtual reality technologies need to emerge from the early adopter stage to improve cost and availability, which is a current inhibitor. I believe adoption will be quicker as more platforms and solutions demonstrate the effectiveness of VR at bridging the gap between what the world looks like and how it behaves and what modern pedagogy actually addresses. Students could actually practice applying the skills they learn in the classroom, which translates to sustainable learning.

zSpace began developing its platform in 2007, and installations started two years ago. They expect to see positive results from the more than 200 schools and districts and universities that have alreadSTEM Lab 2 - zSpacey implemented zSpace systems. What is great about the zSpace STEM Lab is that it is not a one size fits all platform. The STEM lab consists of 10 or more zSpace systems paired with software and curricula resources and differentiated learning experiences across grade levels. Each system is a complete desktop VR platform that includes the HD Display loaded with zSpace virtual reality technology, a stylus, eyewear, keyboard, and mouse.  The STEM software applications, along with partner applications, cover a range of STEM topics, and include more than one thousand 3D models.

The days of virtual classrooms and AR/VR-enabled textbooks might be here sooner than we think. There is consensus about the education sector being the one that will likely see the biggest impact from VR technologies.  I believe there is a real hunger for tools that allow learners to move from passive to active learning, as described by Johnson. VR is a perfect tool to foster collaboration and social interaction between learners. It allows the impossible to be possible via virtual environments. VR enhances interest and motivation through game-based experience and also introduces a new approach to rewards. Last and certainly not least, VR tools inspire creative learning through engagement. With all of these benefits, why would our education system not jump at the opportunity to invest in 21st Century VR tools?

This is the last part in the VR in Education series.

See Part 1, “In Education We Need To Do More Than Sharpen Existing Tools.”

See Part 2, “Impact of VR in Vocational Education and Training.”

See Part 3, “How VR Benefits From the Intersection of Arts, Technology and Humanities.”

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any company mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company mentioned beyond what is described in this article.

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