Virtual reality is a hot topic right now for educationalists. Putney High decided to invite the experts for the UK’s first Virtual Reality in Education Conference to discuss how how the technology could change the way children are taught.
‘Virtual Reality: The Future of Education?’ featured speakers from Google, PwC, Pearson and a wide range of virtual and augmented reality companies who showcased the latest gadgets specifically designed for the education sector.
Pupils got the opportunity to pull apart virtual skeletons with their hands, travel inside human intestines, swim through the Great Barrier Reef and visit medieval London, all from the school’s performing arts centre.
Conference organise Andy Perryer, head of Digital Innovation and Learning, said:
‘Putney High School prides itself on being technologically forward thinking; our VR in Education conference is a schools’ first. This is a particularly exciting platform for education and we have leading experts in the field to showcase how they see VR and AR impacting on education now and in the future.’
Virtual reality in the classroom
The impact VR has already made in the classroom is vast. Over 1 million UK students have been on a Google Expedition, using the company’s cardboard headsets to travel around the world and into space, with plans for a further million students to do so in 2017.
Speakers also outlined the little-known benefits to teaching through experiences with VR, including promoting empathy for other people and cultures, building children’s confidence and stretching their boundaries and encouraging them to be more critical of their subject.
VR and AR could also have exciting applications for children with SEN as it allows them to practise being in potentially difficult places and situations before travelling there in reality, giving teachers the ability to stagger their learning to their own pace.
While Andy Perryer concedes that it will take some time before virtual technology can be found in every classroom in the UK, he says, ‘The potential within VR and AR for becoming a revolutionary tool for teachers is huge. Putney High School is pushing the boundaries of what it can do now with 360° cameras in classes, which can provide invaluable feedback to teachers as they review the behaviour and engagement of their students.’