VR and Education: Goodbye Textbooks, Hello HMD

by Nick Ochoa • November 10th, 2014

Seriously, what is the point of a textbook? They are inherently inefficient: the content needs to be refreshed constantly, they are ridiculously expensive, heavy, waste tons of paper each year and so, damn, boring to read.

On top of that, they are poor vehicles for education. They are static and two-dimensional. In a world where science and mathematics are essential why are we still learning biology and physics in two dimensions?

We live in a 3D world, why do we learn in 2D? It’s unnatural. Virtual reality on the other hand, is a perfect vehicle for education. Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) like the Oculus Rift and Gear VR will become the textbooks of the future, and immersive learning courses will be available on the web or via download from an app store.

Already applications like Discovery Space are creating Oculus experiences that let you take control of a spaceship to travel anywhere you’d like and see anything you wish to see from the comfort of your own spacecraft.

Now would you rather learn astronomy from a textbook or your own personal spacecraft? I choose spacecraft.

A school in the Czech Republic was treated to a 3D biology and anatomy lesson in VR. They plugged into the Rift and were transported to a virtual classroom complete with an interactive skeletal model. With the help of a Leap Motion controller the students could reach into this world and manipulate parts of the model using just their hands.

Why purchase expensive cadavers when doctors can learn and explore the human body virtually? VR doesn’t only make learning more fun; it makes it more accessible and efficient.

So which classroom of the future would you rather be in, the one full of textbooks, or the one full of immersive learning devices?


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