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Using AR and VR in Education: The Next-Gen Learning Tool

Updated: May 31,2022

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Studies show that over 35% of augmented reality users are between the ages of 16 and 34. This means that VR and AR have the potential to enhance the learning process for these generations. For those students, state-of-the-art educational software that's presented in VR and AR apps and headsets can enable studying in ways that are more immersive, engaging, and effective.

Virtual and augmented reality can improve learning for students with short attention spans, make lessons more engaging, and help them pick up new information quickly. In addition, AR and VR in education can make the whole sector more inclusive by providing access to the same material for students with different learning styles. In this article, we’ll present some practical examples of how VR and AR technologies can improve education, also taking a look at the adoption stumbling blocks.

Immersive, Engaging, and Effective Learning

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are quickly becoming popular tools in a variety of sectors, including education. They bring immense learning benefits to students and teachers alike. The primary goal of these technologies is to provide new ways for students to interact with content and learn in a way that will make the subject matter easier to grasp and remember.

VR allows students to immerse themselves in 3D virtual environments, providing a captivating experience. For example, VR in education can be used to create realistic simulations that allow students to partake in experiences that wouldn’t be possible any other way, such as visiting another planet or going back in time.

Statistics about virtual reality acceptance show that out of 960 tested students, 97% were more interested in VR learning formats than tablets and classic pen and paper. This data suggests that most students are well aware of concepts such as the virtual environment, which could lead to easier adoption.

On the other hand, AR overlays digital information onto the real world, giving students a new way to view and interact with their surroundings. AR in education delivers contextual information and makes abstract concepts more tangible. For instance, a student studying chemistry might use AR to see how atoms are arranged in a molecule.

Together, VR and AR can be effective tools that make it possible for students to learn about topics that can’t be covered using traditional methods. Moreover, these technologies can improve the quality of learning when it comes to standard subjects such as history, scientific research, and STEM. As these technologies continue to develop, their role in education will become even more valuable.

Overcoming Current Educational Problems

Being part of immersive technology in education, augmented and virtual reality can solve several obstacles in the academic sphere. Specifically, they can improve student engagement for those with learning disabilities. By creating an all-encompassing environment where students quickly become engrossed in the lessons that are presented, these technologies help bypass certain limitations that characterize the traditional classroom.

Moreover, the AR-VR combination helps introduce practical lessons so that students can acquire the skills they will need to apply in the workplace. Owing to this kind of exercise, they can make a seamless transition to the professional setting. In turn, the education sector itself benefits from the AR and VR environment by turning to interactive training and developing it further to best suit the curriculum.

Improve Focus and Eliminate Distractions

The average human attention span has decreased due to the presence of technology that now permeates every segment of our lives, as internet and social media stats have shown. This is especially true for young people who can benefit from immersive education techniques, as they are growing up in a world where they’re constantly bombarded with information from numerous sources.

Their decreased attention span can have a negative impact on the learning process, as it’s harder for students to focus on one task for an extended period. However, VR and AR can help counteract this effect as they create riveting learning experiences.

What’s more, VR and AR can also be used to break up long lessons into shorter, more manageable chunks. For example, a student struggling to focus on a lecture can put on a VR headset, instantly becoming absorbed in a related simulation. All in all, VR in schools can help the student understand the material and retain the information.

For example, let's take a peek at The VR Museum of Fine Art, a virtual reality app and educational tool available on the digital platform Steam. The software has a 1:1 scale for paintings and sculptures users can walk up to and check the in-game plaques with detailed information on the artist and the work of art. It allows students to feel like they are in an art museum, have fun, and learn along the way.

Reduce Learning Times

Both VR and AR can speed up learning by immersing students in environments and experiences that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to access. For example, with VR and AR, students can explore far-off lands or dive deep beneath the ocean's surface without even leaving the classroom.

HarvardX has developed an immersive educational VR tool that allows students to visit one of the biggest archaeological sites often inaccessible in real life - the Pyramids at the Giza Plateau. Children can visit these marvels of human engineering that are around 4,500 years old, checking out the Pyramids' tombs and unreachable tunnels.

Along the way, they can learn about the development of the pyramid, the decisions that builders made, and what this world wonder was used for, including rituals and ceremonies.

Additionally, these technologies allow learners to interact directly with information through visual cues, hot spots, and other interactive features. Froggipedia is an AR teaching technology and mobile educational app that gives students the opportunity to study a frog's movements, skeletal and organ structure and conduct augmented reality dissections. Teachers can engage students with this app to learn about frog anatomy in a few easy steps.

This software proves VR and AR are powerful tools that accelerate learning and enable deeper insights into challenging subjects. Ultimately, they offer a promising way to optimize the time spent on lessons without sacrificing quality or student involvement in ​​VR learning.

Inclusivity and Accessibility in Education

Another major issue facing education is the widening gap between students who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, which can create an environment that is not inclusive. Luckily, VR and AR educational tools can help tackle this by providing educational resources in affordable and accessible formats.

One example is the AR app ARtGlass, developed by ARtGlass Inc. and funded by Microsoft's AI for Earth grants. Thanks to AR learning technology, students can explore AR exhibits of dinosaur skeletons in their natural size and learn about the evolution process. ARtGlass works with a mobile phone or AR headset, and it’s affordable and easy to use.

What's more, AR and VR can help create an inclusive learning environment for students with special needs. One of the benefits of AR and VR in education is that it can be used to support students with ADHD by improving their focus. Additionally, VR technology is used for treating various phobias, such as those of snakes and spiders, via Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) and Augmented Reality Exposure Therapy (ARET). Importantly, AR-VR combos can help alleviate the symptoms young people with ASD are experiencing.

Then, there’s VirtualSpeech, a virtual reality education app for smartphones that teaches and improves soft skills. Students can practice communication skills for public speaking, job interviews, or leadership. With this educational VR software, they can practice presentations and speeches before a simulated audience inside virtual reality. The app will evaluate each speaker’s soft skills and provide real-time feedback.

K-12 Education With Virtual Worlds

AR and VR technology offers a unique opportunity for K-12 education. By transferring students to a virtual world, this technology can provide a hands-on learning experience that is less reliant on textbooks and lectures. 

AR and VR-like immersive education can be used to create simulations of real-world scenarios, allowing students to experiment with different outcomes without fear of failure. In addition, augmented and virtual reality education can help motivate students by making learning interactive and fun. Imagine being able to place a virtual object on your school desk and see how it interacts with the real world around you. This could be used to help teach science concepts like gravity or friction.

Students can learn about the solar system by exploring their own backyard or gain a deeper understanding of historical events by walking through virtual replicas of great civilizations. They could visit ancient Greece via the VR study app and walk among the columns of the Parthenon. 

Immersive Technology and Higher Education Sector

One area where AR and VR have already exerted a significant impact is the field of higher education. These technologies offer students new ways to engage with course material, explore complex concepts in more depth, and collaborate with peers from around the world.

For instance, virtual labs can be created with the help of VR and AR technologies, allowing students to conduct experiments without the need for physical equipment or hazardous chemicals. Implementing VR and AR in medical education is also beneficial as a supplemental learning tool to create simulations that help students practice intricate skills such as surgical procedures.

Microsoft has already created an augmented reality tool for HoloLens that’s used by surgeons or in classroom learning sessions. With this educational technology, students explore the bloodstream and parts of the human body to better understand our anatomy.

Additionally, AR and VR are being used to facilitate remote learning programs, allowing students in distant areas to access educational resources and interact with their peers and professors.

Are We Ready for Immersive Education

All of these advances in VR and AR technologies will provide critical educational benefits once they are implemented and adopted. Right now, that is not the case, as policymakers and educational institutions need to resolve several major impediments:

  • Lack of funding: AR and VR technology is still relatively new and expensive, meaning that many schools are unable to purchase the necessary equipment.
  • Insufficient educational content: Although there are a growing number of AR and VR apps available, most are designed for entertainment rather than education. Furthermore, creating new content for learning with VR can be time-consuming and expensive.
  • Teaching professors and lecturers how to use augmented and virtual reality in education: In specific instances, educators will have to act as developers of AR and VR content to provide the most immersive and easy-to-adopt lessons.
  • Research methods for removing potential health concerns: VR can be distracting and overwhelming for some students. Some studies have shown that extended use of AR and VR can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. As a result, educators need to be aware of the challenges to using AR and VR in education, potential risks, and correct implementation before incorporating AR and VR into the classroom.
  • Update current IT infrastructure: most VR headsets require a powerful computer, especially a graphics card that can handle complex requirements.

The Future of Student Engagement

Augmented and virtual reality have the potential to revolutionize education as we know it. These technologies can help students learn in new, more immersive ways that are both effective and engaging. AR and VR can also help teachers deliver lessons in a more interactive way, make remote learning easier, and develop a more inclusive curriculum.

However, there are several challenges to be resolved before adopting VR and AR in education, such as the lack of funding, relevant content, research, and infrastructure. Even so, the future looks bright, and these technologies have the capacity to improve the way students learn.


How is VR and AR used in education?

VR and AR are used in education as supplemental learning tools, allowing students to engage with immersive simulations and explore complex concepts.

Which is best for education - AR vs. VR?

There is no definitive answer, as both AR and VR can offer unique educational benefits. AR may be a better fit for subjects like anatomy or physics, while VR is more suitable for history or geography. Ultimately, it’s the professors who should respond to questions about VR and AR in education, as they will need to implement this new form of teaching and define the learning goals for each student.

What is AR and VR?

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that overlays digital information on the real world, while virtual reality (VR) creates a simulated environment that can be experienced through digital devices. AR and VR are often used in gaming and entertainment, but they also have potential applications in education.

How can AR be implemented by teachers in the classroom?

When it comes to using VR to educate students, there are many ways in which AR can be incorporated into classroom teaching. Teachers could use AR apps to create interactive lesson plans, deliver lectures through AR headsets, or provide students with AR textbooks and materials. The key is to find the right balance between AR and traditional instruction methods.

How is AR used in education?

AR is often used in education to create augmented reality textbooks or interactive learning activities. Teachers can use AR for virtual field trips, digital lesson plans, or lectures which they can deliver through AR headsets. It can also be incorporated into lectures and classroom lessons to help students engage with the material in new ways.

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While Damjan started his career in humanities, his interests quickly moved on to the tech and IT world. VPNs, antiviruses, firewalls, password managers - cybersecurity is what he knows best. When Damjan’s not losing hair over the dwindling of our collective sense of tech safety, you’ll find him looking for solace in 100-hour-long RPGs and rage-inducing MOBAs.

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