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When Virtual Reality Meets Education

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$1.46 Billion.

This is the amount of money virtual reality (VR) startups have raised in venture capital, which even includes up to $100 million when it comes to funding. This news emerged during the last 4 consecutive quarters. Virtual reality had been walking around the edge of technology but didn’t really get any commercial adoption or even mainstream application, ever since the 1950’s.

A Citi analyst named Kota Ezawa predicted that 2016 was going to be that one year where virtual reality will start taking off in earnest. The world is also expecting the virtual reality market to climb up into a mind-boggling $15.9 billion industry, by the year 2019. One of the Citi’s predictions also include that the market for the networks, content, hardware, and software will grow and end up reaching $200 billion by the year 2020. Pretty crazy, right?

The share of content that the market owns will be of specific interest – as the part of the technology industry has been addicted to gaming, since so many years. But, guess what? This world is continuously changing and we are now choosing different things than we used to.  For instance, think of the VR industry as full of useful tools, or even an effective improvement for human interactions. Think of it as connecting people throughout the globe in order to enhance interaction and engagement – despite of geographic, social, and economic disparities.

Modern education has been taking huge benefits by this latest innovation. The tech world has been increasingly producing innovation products, which has led to virtual reality now meeting modern education.  Maybe the unworldly applications of this new innovation will turn out to be beneficial for increasing understanding of cultures and other subjects among students around the world.

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Many of the subjects in virtual reality-based learning include biology, geology, astronomy, and even anatomy as a part of greater understanding of lectures. Students find themselves in a deeper immersive experience, whether it’s a historic subject or simple biology.

Coaches, teachers, therapists, and other experts are using VRs around the world to expose their clients to their fears and to the things they haven’t seen before. As modern philosopher Jason Silva describes, that virtual reality is turning our minds inside out. It’s an immersive experience that lets you climb into someone.

As for the therapists, virtual reality can be a huge part of exposure therapy, where clients are exposed to the things they’re afraid of. This is not done easily – it’s mostly done after a number of sessions and then exposing the client to the subject via virtual reality.

There are particular companies that help people overcome their fears, step by step. If you’re afraid of driving, you can either choose levels that include you driving on highways, bridges, or other places.

If you’re afraid of spiders, you’ll be exposed to certain levels of increasing amount of spiders, as you continue to complete levels. There are such innovative initiatives that let you get real-time exposure therapy through virtual reality for an affordable price.

In the September of 2015, Google happened to launch a program called Pioneer Expeditions. In the program, Google provided the equipment a teacher requires to have a class under the immersive experience of virtual reality to 1000’s of schools. They provided the VR gears for only 1 day for a single school.

The equipment included Mattel ViewMasters or Google Cardboard which turns phones into virtual reality headsets, Asus phones, a tablet to help the teacher in directing the tour, as well as a router which allowed Expeditions to be run even without the internet. Not only that, it also had library of more than 100 virtual trips, allowing a wide range to choose from.

The world distribution of VR gear and letting students have the remarkable experience of virtual reality helps even an English teacher to take the students back to the environment of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, or a History teacher to show her class how the Mayans ruin show the way they lived and made their tools. All of this opens new doors to learning, just through the help of virtual reality.

With platforms like LectureVR as well as AltspaceVR (Initiatives that provide virtual reality education), teachers are now open to new ideas and possibilities of all types, since the technology of having multi-player sessions and creating avatars enables them to a huge level of outreach.

Generally, if these innovative platforms collaborate to enhance virtual reality experience, this would end up enabling an artist to guide 1000’s of people around a museum tour or even cultural sites, or a progress holding a virtual reality masterclass along with students from around the globe.

Soon enough, virtual reality might enable a 3rd-grade class in Mexico or India to hold a virtual trip with a 3rd-grade class in the U.S.  It is now for more affordable for people around the world to have access to virtual reality gear for smartphones. Not only is it affordable for people now, but also for schools. Experts are seeing huge progress in the economic results of virtual reality.

Cost of VR hardware (which includes headsets, particularly) has been decreasing over time. With “Samsung Gear VR” for smartphones costing $30-50, Google Cardboard being only $15, desktop virtual reality devices have been a bit expensive. Oculus Rift, which costs $399 now, was once $599. The HTC Vive Focus which is set to release sometime Q4 2018 will be priced at around $1000 and will be a great entry level standalone (wireless) headset that we see getting widespread adoption. This is how affordable it is getting to experience virtual reality, making it easier for anyone around the world to get it.

So far, with Samsung Gear VR, now you can hang out with your friends through Oculus Rooms. They’re made for people with VR gear to hangout with anyone they want, whether they’re sitting next to you or living in another country.  Students and teachers are looking for an ever-expanding platform to improve their skills and enhance the learning experience. Hopefully, soon enough, schools will begin to apply VR experience into their classes.