News

Education Experts Divided Over the Benefits of Virtual Schooling

Can VR replace face-to-face lessons?

  • Optima Classical Academy has announced that it will open the world’s first virtual reality charter school in Florida.
  • Experts say VR is best for college students with limited capacity.
  • More schools like Optima will experiment with pure VR education in the future.

Student with VR glasses and computer tablet.

Cavan Images/Getty Images

Many schools are using virtual reality (VR) in the classroom, but one institution wants to take this idea a step further and provide distance education entirely via headset.

Optima Classical Academy has announced that it will open the world’s first virtual reality charter school in Naples, Florida. The school plans to enroll up to 1,300 students in grades 3-8 in August. However, some experts say limited amounts of VR are best for college students.

“It’s very important for students and educators to be in the same classroom,” Debika Sihi, a professor of economics at Southwestern University who studies technological innovation, told Lifewire in an email interview. “The generated collaboration and organic dialogue enhances learning and is often difficult to fully replicate in virtual environments,” she said.

VR School

Optima Academy advertises their approach on their website as a “better way to school online.” This school is a tuition-free public virtual reality school for grades 3-8 in Florida.

“We use VR technology to solve the challenges of unconstrained, non-social scientists,” the website states. “By combining VR technology with a proven classic teaching model, we can achieve better academic outcomes with scientists who love to learn.”

The school will also be providing VR headsets, he said, and students will receive live lessons in virtual reality classrooms from 8 am to 12 pm daily. As the website states, “Here, students have an immersive, collaborative and socially relevant experience as they interact with their classmates, teachers and curriculum in ways never seen before.”

The school is promoting the possibilities of VR learning and says students can visit ancient Pompeii, stand in the futuristic city of Mars or see how atoms work inside. The school said, “The best thing is that you can share your experiences in real time with your friends and teachers.”

Dennis Smith, education director at SeekXR, which provides VR education resources for teachers, told Lifewire in an email interview that augmented reality or VR educational content could help bridge the gap between face-to-face and distance learning.

“AR/VR promotes interactive learning and improves student engagement and retention of information, especially for visual learners,” said Smith. “In fact, students reported a 14% increase in motivation, 31% attendance, and 11% confidence in learning with augmented reality.”

experts are skeptical

While the Optima website paints a rosy portrait of the VR learning experience, education experts quickly pointed to a few pragmatic issues.

Group of students in classroom using VR headset.

Issec/Getty Images

In an email interview, John Pavlik, professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University of Communication and Information School, advised Lifewire that wearing a VR headset is uncomfortable after prolonged wear. Under certain circumstances, VR learning experiences can replace non-VR student learning in real schools, he said.

“Otherwise the best design is immersive VR-based learning combined with direct learning,” added Pavlik. “It’s also worth noting that in many cases VR learning systems are used in real school settings where students do not need to own, operate, or maintain their own VR equipment. “You can study sessions.”

Optima Academy administrators did not respond to Lifewire’s request for comment.

Luke Wilson, CEO of ManageXR, a device management platform for VR/AR devices, said in an email interview that more schools like Optima have the potential to experiment with pure VR education in the future.

“VR is proving to be an incredibly valuable tool for education,” Wilson said. “As more schools switch to VR, more content is being developed, so educators will soon have an infinite library of classes and new learning experiences to choose from,” Wilson said. At the same time, more and more technologies will advance to enable hundreds of students to run everything smoothly at the same time, without the extra work of teachers.”


More information

Education Experts Divided Over the Benefits of Virtual Schooling

Can VR replace in-person learning?

Optima Classical Academy says it will introduce the world’s first virtual reality charter school in Florida. 
Experts say that VR is best for students in limited doses. 
More schools like Optima are likely to experiment with VR-only education in the future.
Cavan Images / Getty Images

Many schools are using virtual reality (VR) in classrooms, but one institution wants to take the idea a step further and provide remote education taught entirely through headsets. 

Optima Classical Academy says it will introduce the world’s first virtual reality charter school in Naples, Florida. The school wants to enroll up to 1,300 students in August, grades 3-8. However, some experts say VR is best for students in limited doses. 

“There is so much value for students and educators in being in a classroom together,” Debika Sihi, a business professor at Southwestern University who studies technological innovation, told Lifewire in an email interview. “The collaborations and organic conversations that are generated enhance learning and are often difficult to replicate completely in virtual settings.”

School in VR

The Optima Academy touts its approach on its website as a “better way to do online school.” The school is a tuition-free virtual reality public school for 3rd-8th grade Florida students. 

“We use VR technology to solve the challenges of disengaged, unsocialized scholars,” according to its website. “Our combination of VR technology and a time-tested classical education model produces better academic outcomes and scholars that love to learn.”

The school also says that it will provide VR headsets, and students will receive live instruction each day, 8 am-12 pm, inside a virtual reality classroom. “Here, they experience an immersive, collaborative, and socially appropriate experience interacting with their classmates, their instructors, and the curriculum in a way unlike anything before,” the website says. 

The school promotes the possibilities of learning in VR, saying that students can visit ancient Pompeii, stand in a future city on Mars, or see how atoms work from the inside. “Best of all, they share the experience in real-time with their classmates and instructors,” the school said. 

Dennis Smith, the director of education at SeekXR, which provides VR teaching resources for teachers, told Lifewire in an email interview that augmented reality or VR educational content can help bridge the gap between in-person and remote instruction. 

“AR/VR encourages interactive learning and improves student engagement and information retention, especially for visual learners,” Smith said. “In fact, students reported a 14% increase in motivation, a 31% increase in attendance, and an 11% increase in confidence when learning with augmented reality.” 

Experts Are Skeptical

While the Optima website paints a rosy portrait of the VR learning experience, education experts were quick to point out some practical problems. 

izusek / Getty Images

John Pavlik, a professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, pointed out to Lifewire in an email interview that wearing VR headsets is uncomfortable after wearing them for long periods. Under some circumstances, VR learning experiences could replace students’ learning without VR in actual schools, he said. 

“Otherwise, the best design is immersive VR-based learning in combination with in-person learning,” Pavlik added. “It’s also worth noting that in many cases, VR learning systems are used within a physical school environment where students do not need to own, operate or maintain their own VR equipment and can then discuss their VR experiences with classmates and teacher after concluding their immersive learning session.”

Administrators from Optima Academy did not respond to requests from Lifewire seeking comment. 

More schools like Optima are likely to experiment with VR-only education in the future, Luke Wilson, the CEO of ManageXR, a device management platform for VR/AR devices, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

“VR is proving itself as an incredibly valuable tool for education,” Wilson said. “As more schools turn to VR, more and more content is being developed, so there will soon be an endless library of classes and new learning experiences for educators to choose from. At the same time, more technologies will continue to advance so that everything runs smoothly for hundreds of students at once without requiring extra work from the teachers.”

#Education #Experts #Divided #Benefits #Virtual #Schooling

Education Experts Divided Over the Benefits of Virtual Schooling

Can VR replace in-person learning?

Optima Classical Academy says it will introduce the world’s first virtual reality charter school in Florida. 
Experts say that VR is best for students in limited doses. 
More schools like Optima are likely to experiment with VR-only education in the future.
Cavan Images / Getty Images

Many schools are using virtual reality (VR) in classrooms, but one institution wants to take the idea a step further and provide remote education taught entirely through headsets. 

Optima Classical Academy says it will introduce the world’s first virtual reality charter school in Naples, Florida. The school wants to enroll up to 1,300 students in August, grades 3-8. However, some experts say VR is best for students in limited doses. 

“There is so much value for students and educators in being in a classroom together,” Debika Sihi, a business professor at Southwestern University who studies technological innovation, told Lifewire in an email interview. “The collaborations and organic conversations that are generated enhance learning and are often difficult to replicate completely in virtual settings.”

School in VR

The Optima Academy touts its approach on its website as a “better way to do online school.” The school is a tuition-free virtual reality public school for 3rd-8th grade Florida students. 

“We use VR technology to solve the challenges of disengaged, unsocialized scholars,” according to its website. “Our combination of VR technology and a time-tested classical education model produces better academic outcomes and scholars that love to learn.”

The school also says that it will provide VR headsets, and students will receive live instruction each day, 8 am-12 pm, inside a virtual reality classroom. “Here, they experience an immersive, collaborative, and socially appropriate experience interacting with their classmates, their instructors, and the curriculum in a way unlike anything before,” the website says. 

The school promotes the possibilities of learning in VR, saying that students can visit ancient Pompeii, stand in a future city on Mars, or see how atoms work from the inside. “Best of all, they share the experience in real-time with their classmates and instructors,” the school said. 

Dennis Smith, the director of education at SeekXR, which provides VR teaching resources for teachers, told Lifewire in an email interview that augmented reality or VR educational content can help bridge the gap between in-person and remote instruction. 

“AR/VR encourages interactive learning and improves student engagement and information retention, especially for visual learners,” Smith said. “In fact, students reported a 14% increase in motivation, a 31% increase in attendance, and an 11% increase in confidence when learning with augmented reality.” 

Experts Are Skeptical

While the Optima website paints a rosy portrait of the VR learning experience, education experts were quick to point out some practical problems. 

izusek / Getty Images

John Pavlik, a professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, pointed out to Lifewire in an email interview that wearing VR headsets is uncomfortable after wearing them for long periods. Under some circumstances, VR learning experiences could replace students’ learning without VR in actual schools, he said. 

“Otherwise, the best design is immersive VR-based learning in combination with in-person learning,” Pavlik added. “It’s also worth noting that in many cases, VR learning systems are used within a physical school environment where students do not need to own, operate or maintain their own VR equipment and can then discuss their VR experiences with classmates and teacher after concluding their immersive learning session.”

Administrators from Optima Academy did not respond to requests from Lifewire seeking comment. 

More schools like Optima are likely to experiment with VR-only education in the future, Luke Wilson, the CEO of ManageXR, a device management platform for VR/AR devices, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

“VR is proving itself as an incredibly valuable tool for education,” Wilson said. “As more schools turn to VR, more and more content is being developed, so there will soon be an endless library of classes and new learning experiences for educators to choose from. At the same time, more technologies will continue to advance so that everything runs smoothly for hundreds of students at once without requiring extra work from the teachers.”

#Education #Experts #Divided #Benefits #Virtual #Schooling


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