Technology has completely transformed the way we live. Few can deny the impact of technological innovations on their everyday life - from how we travel, to how we buy, how we communicate with each other, and even what jobs are available to us now.
One area that has been slow to catch up with these technological changes is education, and more specifically, adult learning courses. We’ve progressed from learning in classrooms to online learning or a mixture of the two, but comparatively to virtually every other aspect of our lives, education has remained unchanged.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) could be the advancement the industry has been waiting for.
The benefits of VR and AR for adult learning are revolutionary. The combination of experiential learning and accessibility make these emerging technologies serious contenders to shake up learning systems.
Virtual reality has the power to bring learning to life and make the whole experience more enjoyable; VR could be the effective, engaging literacy tool the adult learning industry has been waiting for.
Clearly there is a demand for accessible learning. But what if MOOCs and VR were combined? You could be taught in a classroom or lecture theatre by an expert or practice what you are learning, all from the comfort of your own home. Instead of imagining a scenario or reading case studies to apply your knowledge, you could actually live it.
Learning with VR is the ideal learning method to build students’ confidence. There’s no embarrassment if you don’t understand something the first time, or if your peers grasp concepts more quickly - you learn and practice at your own pace. The ability to practice in VR makes it unique - imagine being able to make mistakes, learn from them, and try again, without any real-world consequences.
This is especially useful for soft skills such as presenting, building interpersonal relationships, and sales, where practice improves performance. VirtualSpeech provide online courses combined with virtual simulations and feedback within their VR app, so that students have the most thorough, accessible learning experience possible.
And most people already own the most expensive tool required for adult learning courses with VR - a smartphone. An estimated 70-75% of adults who need literacy support have access to a smartphone, and that figure is even higher for more complex skills.
This means that millions of people can access high quality learning with a device they already own, and they would just have to purchase a VR headset for as little as $10. This also makes it a more accessible way to learn because adult learners can fit their education around their full-time job, without having to pay thousands of dollars or sacrifice large chunks of their time going to a learning centre.
As the technology progresses, we’ll likely see lectures being delivered in the virtual world, which would be costly to attend in the real world but practically free with VR. This could change the landscape of universities too.
The potential for this transition can already be seen with Engage, an educational platform that allows 30 users/ students into a virtual environment at one time. If it’s easier for people to access and ultimately a more efficient to learn virtually then what does this mean for higher education as we know it today?
Adult learning courses could be the stepping stone to widespread adoption of VR in education. By providing a safe, accessible, and affordable environment for students to learn through experience, VR has the potential to totally transform adult learning.