It came as a surprise when I learned that technologies such as virtual reality and massive gaming have been in use within the education sector for sometime. While they are being used in other areas of education, these technologies have been used in medicine and aviation for quite some time. Their uses within the classroom and their effectiveness within developing applications are being explored further by researchers interested in adding the technology to various curriculum.
Over the years there have been many studies carried out to show that students respond well to a variety of teaching techniques and it has been acknowledged that the use of computer simulations and virtual reality presents a powerful tool to learning. Its uses have been developed to provide students with a means to learn skills and concepts that they may otherwise only ever read about in a textbook. As a student that learns by “doing”, I can certainly understand this.
Computers and software have become a fundamental element in teaching and in the classroom. Their importance as teaching aids is well documented and the continued development of multimedia and virtual environments means teachers now have the ability to introduce to students virtual simulations of situations which could otherwise be too expensive or dangerous to carry out in the real world.
Whether it is virtual reality, massive gaming or other forms of computer simulation, students are now able to interface with situations which have a high degree of interactivity, immersion and realism. However, the software requires high quality graphics often of a 3D nature and the use of specialized hardware components such as head mounted displays and specialist clothing to be able to achieve this high degree of interactivity and realism. Because of this the concept of virtual reality has taken more than 30 years to find its way within the budget of many research establishments.