Rolling lockdowns have become a fact of life to the vast majority of the world, and even with several potential vaccine candidates on the horizon, it’s likely that restrictions to what we can do will be in place in various forms for the foreseeable future.
The pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and learn in ways that were hard to anticipate. While lockdowns are there to help protect our physical well being, for many people, the restrictions have taken their toll on mental health, creating feelings of anxiety, stress, and isolation. Another significant casualty of lockdowns is our ability to effectively learn and develop ourselves.
Distance learning has become the norm for school and university students around the world, and while it can still provide some of the critical elements of the learning experience, others are impossible to replicate on a computer screen. The problem isn’t just one faced by those in formal education, though. Every day children and adults alike learn through their experiences in the world and interactions with friends, family, and colleagues.
Virtual reality technology is an ideal solution to help alleviate some of these problems and issues, and while they may not be a complete fix or replacement for the ways we used to learn and interact before, they can fill a vital role in our development when other options are simply impossible. Read on to find out more about how VR can help us to learn and develop during lockdowns, and how much it costs to get started.
The Cost of Entry
Virtual Reality is still a relatively new technology in the consumer space, and with any new technology, the cost of adoption can be incredibly high until it has become established and common enough for market forces and competition to drive down the price. Luckily virtual reality has already begun to experience the push for more accessible devices and pricing.
Most of the leading VR companies have now introduced models at more consumer-friendly price points with prices starting under $300 for full kits. If $300 is still too much then there are even cheaper options available in the form of add-ons to the smartphones that almost every one of us owns. These options don’t offer quite the same experience as the high-end editions, lacking in motion tracking and image quality, but with a starting price of $25, they still offer a great introduction to VR.
Exploring The World
One of the most obvious and biggest activities that lockdowns have limited is the ability to explore the world around us and travel. Experiencing and being exposed to new locations and cultures is an important part of any educational experience, from personal travel adventures to organised field trips from the classroom.
Looking at static pictures or documentaries of the locales just isn’t the same as being able to immerse yourself in the environment. It can be hard to truly appreciate the detail and scale of some of the world’s most important landmarks when viewed on a 15-inch monitor. Virtual reality experiences have been created for thousands of locations around the world, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the environment’s visuals and sounds. Not only are the locations displayed in near life-like detail, but the ability to walk around allows you to experience and explore in a natural and organic way.
Classroom at Home
One of the big problems with distance learning is that the setting outside the classroom can be filled with distractions and interruptions. Everybody has fallen victim to a wandering attention span while trying to focus on learning new material at some point and being at home without direct oversight (teachers can’t monitor every video participant all the time) only amplifies the problem.
Virtual reality classrooms, viewed through a VR headset, help to keep attention focussed on the material by eliminating audio and visual distractions present in the home environment.
Very few skills can be taught purely from a textbook. Whether you are learning about core subjects such as science or geography in school or teaching yourself a new hobby activity, the ability to get hands-on experience is irreplaceable. In virtual reality, hands-on experiences can be conducted safely and securely, allowing you to get important practical experience while lockdowns continue.
By blending 3D generated environments and real-world footage (recorded by special VR cameras), users can explore and learn, even benefitting from the ability to manipulate objects in the 3D space.
Face-to-face human contact is vitally important for the emotional development of young children, but it is also important for adults. We take a lot of our social cues from the body language of others, and those cues can be hard to detect when viewing the person in a small video window on a screen. Using virtual reality for video conference and communication enables you to feel more immersed in the conversation and better able to benefit from the invisible language we use.
Gaming may not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing learning experiences, but the truth is it can be an important tool in developing a variety of skills. The first consumer focus for virtual reality was in the gaming industry, which means there is a plethora of choices and experiences to choose from. The right gaming experiences can help to develop communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, without feeling like you are learning at all-perfect for younger kids resistant to sit in virtual classrooms.
VR technology has a lot of great ways to help us interact with the world, learn, and develop ourselves. From visiting far off places to making the connection to friends and family more immersive, VR is an ideal way to help us navigate the new reality we are all experiencing while still maintaining some semblance of normality. And with the cost of entry lower than ever before there has never been a better time to jump in and start exploring how virtual reality can help you and your family continue to learn and experience during the lockdown.