Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This quote perfectly sums up the relationship between VR and education. Virtual reality makes a learning experience more engaging, which helps students learn faster and develop more practical skills. At the same time, VR makes it possible to dive into complex topics like robotics that would not be accessible to students otherwise due to high costs.
In this article, we will show you the benefits of implementing VR for educational purposes. The two cases we will cover, a VR hackathon for 350 students and a 3-day project uniting VR and robotics, will give you a better understanding of the competitive advantage of VR over traditional learning techniques.
VR is the Future: How 350 Students Built VR Projects From Scratch
Before talking about the opportunities that VR creates to learn different subjects, we have to acknowledge that VR itself is a tool of the future that everyone should take advantage of. According to Statista, the VR/AR market will expand dramatically in the coming years, with forecasts for 2023 eclipsing $160 billion U.S. dollars. And that is just the beginning: while today VR development is mostly restricted to professionals, soon everyone would be able to create their own VR projects. It might sound like a dream to you, but even now there are tools that allow users to create and manage VR content by themselves, such as platforms like Varwin and BrioVR.
These tools make VR development available to more people: you no longer need years of experience to create a VR project, and even students can do it. In fact, a recent hackathon organized in Russia proved that VR is no longer a complex technology but something everyone can master. The hackathon involved 350 students from all around Russia, most of whom were not at all familiar with VR. The teams used the Varwin platform to build their projects, which allowed them to get into VR development quickly and easily thanks to the drag-and-drop system and Blockly visual language that Varwin offers.
All teams created different projects — the only requirement was for it to include a robot. The team that won first place, for example, created a scenario for emergency training. Within their project, the user was locked in an enclosed space while a fire was breaking out. The robot was nearby and was able to save the user since it could move around objects and open doors. The team added sounds and fire effects to the project, which made it realistic and impressive.
Learning how to build a VR project is a useful skill for students as they are going to witness huge technological progress during their careers. VR is also exciting for the next generation, and providing students the opportunity to work with VR pays off with their involvement and interest in this technology. In only 3 days during the hackathon, the teams not only learned how to work with the Varwin platform but successfully completed their projects and created their own worlds and scenarios. Students fully engaged in the process and discovered VR development for themselves.
VR Helps Explore New Fields: How Students Programmed a Robot in VR
Virtual reality also makes it possible to connect to other innovative technologies at a lower cost. For example, let’s imagine you always wanted to learn how to program robots. In order to do this, you would need to purchase a robot and build the required surroundings for it, which adds up to a rather large sum of money. However, what if instead you could program a robot in VR: it is more affordable and it allows you to get the same experience. The programming process is similar, you need the same code, and you can watch a robot perform the tasks, only in virtual reality.
According to Statista, the robotics market will reach $500 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. Robots are expected to replace humans in many routine tasks, so learning how to program robots can guarantee students an interesting and well-paid job in the future. However, most students do not have access to robots as their families and educational institutions cannot afford to buy them. These students, therefore, can’t learn how to program robots, and they miss out on the skills that could open them so many doors in the future.
Fortunately, students can get the same experience programming a robot in VR instead. ROBBO, a company that provides equipment for teaching robotics, organized such a project for high school students during the International Project School at Innopolis University. They asked a team of 3 high school students to program a robot in VR, and the team only needed 9 days to successfully complete the project. The robot that the team programmed could move along a specific trajectory as well as grab an object and move it to another place. Students used the Varwin platform for this project, which allowed them to streamline VR development. Even though none of them were familiar with the platform before, students quickly learned how to build projects on it.
One of the team members, Adel, shares, “Programming a robot in VR is much easier, and it saves time for people. Such an approach allows you to test a robot in the most difficult situations, which would be too expensive or dangerous to recreate in real life.”
Key Takeaways: VR Potential for Education
VR development is no longer a complex mystery now that we have special tools for simplifying and streamlining the process. Today students can create VR projects without any special programming skills. In the first case, even without mentorship, all 350 students managed to build their VR projects. The case with ROBBO shows that other fields and technologies can also be explored through VR.
There has never been a better time to start taking advantage of virtual reality in the field of education. As Malcolm X said, “tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. And thanks to VR, preparing for tomorrow is now extremely affordable and exciting.