Not just a fad, augmented reality and virtual reality offer interactive learning, which educational research finds valid and effective

The last barrier to using augmented reality and virtual reality in the classroom–cost–is starting to come down, and Angela Elkordy, Ph.D., Chair of Learning Sciences and Director, Learning Technologies programs, of National Louis University, says these promising educational technologies will soon be coming to K-12 classrooms around the nation. Some will start using them this school year to power up students’ learning.

Virtual reality and augmented reality require students to actively participate, and this engagement is the reason they are successful in helping students learn.

“Research has shown that this type of active learning is much more effective and motivating in helping people learn than passive instructional techniques like watching a movie,” said Elkordy, a national expert in the Technology for Education field who instructs master’s and doctoral level education students.

“Plus, VR and AR are very engaging, fun and exciting for students,” she said.

Virtual reality and augmented reality (which is like VR but is not immersive; think Pokemon Go) can be used in social studies to make students feel they are in the middle of the Battle of Normandy or the signing of the Declaration of Independence. They can also be used in science, to make students feel they’re in a cell getting a view of the human bloodstream from inside the body.

Elkordy says VR and AR in the classroom are a natural extension of children’s and teen’s lives so far, since they have grown up using Snapchat filters and playing digital games in which they take on a persona in an imaginary world–like Mario, Minecraft or the Sims.

In terms of learning theory, Elkordy explained that augmented and virtual reality build upon learners’ prior knowledge and help them add new information into the mind map of what they already know. AR and VR also foster Connected Learning, which posits that learning is social and interactive, and helps learners interact with others–even if that means the designer of the educational activity.

The possibilities for learning continue to grow as developers create more virtual reality apps and games for education.

“Boundaries are blurring between entertainment, edutainment and educational content,” Elkordy said. “Virtual reality and augmented reality have huge and exciting potential in the classroom, and we can all look forward to the possibilities.”

Dr. Angela Elkordy is available for interviews. She also can connect reporters with a teacher who has been using VR in the classroom for three years and plans to add more VR equipment for his students.

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