Why VR Matters for Education

The one constant in computer based learning, over the last three decades, is the lack success in changing the education experience for the better.  That's not to say that there hasn't been excellent educational software, there has.  It's just that it hasn't improved retention or more importantly, enthusiasm for learning.

One possible reason?  Computer based instruction doesn't address a sufficent number of Learning Styles.

What are Learning Styles?

People have different learning styles and techniques.  Learning styles group the common ways that people learn.  Most people have a mix of learning styles.  Some may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles.  Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances.  There is no right way to learn. 

The Seven Learning Styles:

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  • Visual (spatial): Prefers using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Prefers using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Prefers using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Prefers using their body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Prefers using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): Prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intra-personal): Prefers to work alone and use self-study.

Traditional based computer instruction certainly addresses Visual and Logical learning styles, and sometimes Aural.  What VR brings to the table is the Physical (kinesthetic) learning style.  Users can 'grab' objects, perform operations with them.  It can also be argued that VR provides a better Visual Learning Style experience due to its immersive nature.

We're applying VR technology to a variety of educational experiences.  Our first effort is "Edison's Lab," a VR experience we're building that educates and entertains.  "Edison's Lab" combines science and history with virtual reality technology, to make Edison and his inventions relevant to students today.  This experience exercises multiple learning skills.  

"Edison's Lab" allows users to interact with Edison’s inventions in a virtual environment.  By exploiting VR, the experience supports multiple learning styles and improves retention:

  • Visual: Users can see 3D representations of inventions and objects of Edison’s era.
  • Aural/Verbal: Users hear Edison’s own words, as he describes the creation of these inventions.  They even hear Edison’s phonograph in operation.
  • Physical (Kinesthetic): Users assemble inventions and pick up objects in the virtual environment.
  • Logical: Puzzles allow users to understand the logic of simple electrical wiring.  

"Edison's Lab" takes place in several locations.  This includes the workshops at Menlo Park and Ft. Myers as well as his movie studio, machine shop and office.

Each location is a realistic 3D environment that the player will be able to navigate in and manipulate objects.  Users collect objects, learn about their history, assemble inventions and solve logical puzzles.  
This is our first "VR with a Purpose" title, but it won't be our last.  

Contact us at Forward Reality if you're interested in learning more about our work to create great educational content.

- William Volk, Chief Futurist, Forward Reality.