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Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is a recent advancement in technology and is quickly gaining popularity in various fields of life including being used in high school and college classrooms as an aide to enhance student learning. The use of computers and information technology in classrooms to assist in learning is not a novel idea. Implementation of virtual reality is one step ahead. It is believed that virtual reality may open new worlds of learning and enable students to achieve much more than they used to in the past.

This hypothesis is based on the fact that virtual reality will allow the pupils to see things from a different perspective. They will have a better chance of getting personal attention since their experiences through the virtual learning process will be more personalized and they will have a chance of observing and understanding things more closely. Using virtual reality actually means arousing more interest in students regarding their studies and their personal interest in learning and gaining will actually help them excel.

“Harnessing the awesome power of virtual reality for educational uses will permanently change the nature and course of how children learn. No longer will children sit idly by in classrooms – the opportunity is here to provide them with an unprecedented chance to explore, engage, and visualize schoolwork like never before. ” (“Virtual Reality” The Journal) It is believed by all education providers and curriculum developers that practically doing something provides better understanding of a subject.

Virtual reality will help ensure that students are able to practically take part in all those experiments and other relevant activities which were previously not feasible due to safety purposes or lack of equipment for all the students. What is Virtual Reality? In simple words virtual reality is the development of a simulated environment by the computer. It does not exist in reality but looks and almost feels real to the person interacting with the virtual reality system. In technical terminology, “virtual reality (VR) is a technology which allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment, be it a real or imagined one.

Most current virtual reality environments are primarily visual experiences, displayed either on a computer screen or through special or stereoscopic displays, but some simulations include additional sensory information, such as sound through speakers or headphones. ” (Virtual Reality Wikipedia) Virtual reality has a wide range of applications and initially it was used for training military personnel before it was even decided to be implemented in schools and colleges. Tracing back the roots of virtual reality gives slightly unclear results.

However, it is certain that Jaron Lanier, one of the modern pioneers of virtual reality (Virtual Reality Wikipedia) has a huge role to play in popularizing the concept of virtual reality in 1985. Virtual reality provides a three dimensional (3-D) and extremely close to reality simulated environment. It is believed that the pace with which the quality of the virtual reality technology is improving, one day it will be difficult to differentiate between the real and “unreal” or virtual environment. The most popular use of virtual reality has been the development of virtual reality games.

These games have not only aroused interest in children but also have captivated the attention of many adult game players. The level of interest shown especially by young people has led to the idea of experimenting with virtual reality in school and college classrooms; even professional development training institutes like medical colleges and military training centers have used and are currently using virtual reality as a successful means of imparting important education. Implementation of Virtual Reality in classrooms

“The ideal virtual reality model considers virtual reality as the ultimate navigation tool through which one can visualize, manipulate and interact with computers and complex data sets. Thus virtual reality can be understood as a most advanced type of human-computer interface available nowadays. ” (Cited in Watson and Andersen p. 96-97) Hence the person interacting with a virtually created environment is actually immersed in it. This possibility of being immersed in one’s virtual surrounding is of special use in the teaching arena.

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