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Pakko De La Torre // Creative Director

Why is Virtual Reality the Next Big Thing in Online Learning?

Why is Virtual Reality the Next Big Thing in Online Learning?

E-learning has already been around for a few decades and is still widely used today. There are numerous reasons for its popularity, including the fact that it has enabled the largest body of knowledge ever created at near-zero costs while also allowing for individual self-paced learning and group cohort-based learning.

This might happen after too much “e-learning”.

But e-learning isn’t perfect, and one of its biggest drawbacks is that it isn’t currently an immersive experience; it takes place on a flat, two-dimensional screen rather than in the real world or a virtual environment where you can interact with objects and other people’s avatars. As a result, e-learning is less engaging than traditional physical alternatives, and communities do not develop to the same extent as they would in real-world settings. However, virtual reality provides an interesting way to combine both the benefits of the physical world and the digital realm.

Self-paced and collaborative learning powered by virtual reality.

The immersive nature of virtual reality makes learning experiential, paving the way for better engagement that unlocks increased knowledge retention and reduced learning times. Traditional mediums (text, image, and video) can also be incorporated into the immersive (3D) experience to further enhance it. Learning math, for example, can be made fun and enjoyable by relating it to real-life use cases and examples, like Prisms does.

We’ve come a long way since the days of Math Rabbit.

The majority of VR learning content today consists of individual, self-paced courses with a multiplayer or collaborative component that can be accompanied with platforms like Spatial or Glue for group-based learning.

Fostering a learning community is greatly aided by joining a virtual space in which people can have face-to-face interactions and up-close relationships just like in real life, resulting in communities that are more tightly bonded than a 2D flat Zoom version. As avatars become more realistic and better represent us, virtual group interactions will be eerily similar to those in real life.

Slowly getting “there” with Spatial.

The ultimate online learning experience will be a combination of individual learning courses that allow users to immerse themselves and learn interactively at their own pace, as well as live group sessions in specially designed 3D environments that encourage discussion and shared experiences. This enables students to go back and forth between focusing and learning at a deep level and sharing experiences with peers for community building.

Horizon Workrooms working its way to community building.

This ultimate online learning experience is very well portrayed in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, a popular book about a dystopian world where people spend most of their time in virtual reality. They go to school and work in VR, but they also socialize and entertain themselves in the OASIS, a massive multiplayer online game where you can do anything you want. In this fictional world, is the planet for learning, where teachers can embark their students on super-fun experiences and field trips like the following one:

“…the software allowed simulations to aid in the teaching experience, enabling teachers to take their class to witness the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by archaeologists in Egypt in AD 1922 immediately after showing them Tutankhamen’s empire in its glory the day previous.”

These types of experiences are already possible today.

It also had virtual libraries with all of the information needed to master any subject, as well as fully equipped classrooms and labs where students could gather for “traditional” learning (powered by tools to focus students on the teacher and subjects). Given all of the parallel efforts being made across the virtual reality spectrum, this vision is not that far-fetched, and sooner rather than later, they will come together to create a Ludus-type learning ecosystem.

Attempting to create Ludus with Midjourney v4.

Disclaimer: I am not trying to claim that VR will replace all types of learning experiences, but rather that it is the next step in the evolution of online learning.

Why is Virtual Reality the Next Big Thing in Online Learning? was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

This content was originally published here.