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Why Your School Should Invest in Virtual Reality


VR headset

Imagine you're a 6th grade science teacher, and today, you are teaching your students about hurricanes. Most of your students have never experienced a hurricane before, never seen them rip trees from the ground or cause such intense flooding houses were completely underwater. As you stand at the front of the room telling your students the max wind speed and giving them the precise depth of flooding, they just aren’t engaged or fully comprehending the magnitude. This is expected. They have no lived experience to compare these abstract speeds and depths to.  


Now, imagine teaching the same 6th grade science class about hurricanes, but today you are utilizing the power of Virtual Reality to engage your students. As you hand out the headsets and hand controllers, you play a short clip reviewing how hurricanes are formed. Your students are intensely paying attention. When they put on their headsets, they are immediately transported to Southwest Florida. The year is 2022 and Hurricane Ian is quickly approaching. Your students see the effect those wind speeds have on trees and experience a dramatic level of flooding. 


In both scenarios you presented all the same information to your students. However, only in the second scenario do your students remember the year Hurricane Ian took place, the highest wind speeds recorded and the exact depth of flooding. Virtual Reality experiences can have this effect across grade levels and subject areas, bringing abstract concepts to life, sparking curiosity and creating a love of learning.   


Why K-12 Schools Should Invest in VR 


Primes Student Interest 

Virtual reality has the remarkable ability to ignite curiosity within students. By transporting them directly into the heart of a subject, VR goes beyond the confines of textbooks, lectures, and even videos. Imagine a student exploring the bustling streets of ancient Rome, witnessing firsthand the architectural wonders and daily life that formed the bedrock of democracy. Picture students venturing inside a human cell, observing the intricate dance of organelles that govern our very existence. VR experiences like these provide students with unparalleled context and ignite a passion for learning that transcends rote memorization. 

 

 

Encourages Active Learning 

Traditional classroom models often present information in a static, one-directional manner. VR disrupts this paradigm, transforming students from passive observers into active participants. Imagine a history lesson where students aren't just reading about the storming of the Bastille, but are standing amidst the revolutionary fervor, experiencing the sights and sounds firsthand. VR fosters a dynamic and interactive learning environment, allowing students to manipulate objects, conduct experiments, and collaborate with peers in ways that traditional methods simply cannot replicate. This heightened level of engagement fuels motivation and fosters a deeper connection to the material. 


Improves Long-Term Retention Levels 

VR takes learning beyond the realm of abstract and into the realm of unforgettable. Research indicates that immersive experiences significantly improve information retention compared to traditional methods. When students are not simply reading about the Great Barrier Reef, but virtually diving among its vibrant ecosystems, the experience becomes etched in their memory. VR allows students to create strong cognitive associations that solidify learning and foster a deeper understanding that persists long after the VR headset is removed. 


Increases Classroom Efficiency 

The transformative power of VR extends beyond student engagement and retention. Studies by the World Economic Forum suggest that VR and AI technologies can free up to 30% of a teacher's time. Imagine the possibilities this opens. Teachers can leverage this newfound time to provide more personalized instruction, address individual student needs, and create even more engaging learning experiences. VR serves as a powerful tool, not a replacement, for educators. It empowers them to become facilitators of exploration and discovery, ultimately enriching the learning process for both students and teachers. 


Research affirming VR is an invaluable tool for K-12 educators: 

Researchers at the University of Southern California conducted a compelling study that directly addresses the impacts of VR on student engagement and learning outcomes. Their findings are positive, demonstrating VR can significantly improve both aspects of education. This suggests Virtual Reality is not just a gaming device, but an educational tool with the potential to make a real difference in the classroom.  


Similarly, a 2017 Maise Report written by Edtech expert Elliott Masie, states a National Training laboratory study found lectures and reading produce only 5% to 10% learning retention rates while a virtual reality experience can result in 75% retention — second only to learning by teaching someone else. This study affirms Virtual Reality not only as an educational tool, but as an optimal tool for improving student engagement and recall.  


In comparison, this study, conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, takes a slightly different approach. Rather than considering the benefits of VR in education, researchers conducted a systematic review analyzing the various ways VR is used in classrooms and the motivations driving educators to adopt this technology. 99 papers were reviewed. Increased immersion and motivation were the top reasons educators utilized VR and 35 of the papers reviewed topics relating to health care. Similarly, a survey of more than 1,000 US K-12 educators completed by Gfk shows most teachers want to utilize VR to enable students to simulate otherwise unsafe or impossible experiences (72%), explore otherwise impossible locations (68%), and understand tough concepts (69%). These studies show Virtual Reality opens the door to unparalleled experiences, exposing students to new immersive scenarios they otherwise would not otherwise encounter. 

 

Interested in more research? View our research page where we are constantly posting new studies. Alternatively, contact us today at sales@optimaed.com.  


How Can Optima Independent Help? 

Optima Independent is here to help educators struggling with student engagement and mastery of complex concepts. We specialize in integrating Virtual Reality (VR) experiences into your curriculum, offering the world’s largest library of educational VR resources to enhance your teaching. Imagine students delving into the Amazon rainforest, conducting virtual dissections, or even exploring the pyramids – all within the classroom walls. With seamless classroom management and flexible professional development opportunities, we work with educators to harness the power of VR in their classrooms.  


  • Seamless Classroom Management: Our platform empowers you with a robust suite of classroom management tools, ensuring a smooth and productive learning environment for your VR lessons and allowing you to focus on guiding your students' exploration. 

  • Flexible Professional Development: We understand that effective implementation requires confident educators. That's why we offer ongoing professional development opportunities both in-person and online. Each professional development session can be tailored to your knowledge and comfort level. 

  • Largest Educational VR Content Library: You heard that right, Optima Independent boasts the largest educational VR content library in existence. It includes 2,000+ manipulatives, 250+ locations and over 40 pre-recorded field trips. Utilizing our Digital Content Library, educators across grades and subject areas are equipped to bring lessons to life, bringing real world application to standards.  

At Optima Independent, our mission is clear – to equip you with the resources you need to excel. We want to ignite your passion for teaching and empower you to inspire the next generation in innovative ways.  

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