Monday, February 22, 2016

Virtual Reality and The Dawn of a More Experienced Generation

     One of the most talked about budding technologies is VR, or Virtual Reality, which allows users to interact with an infinite amount of environments and situations in a virtual world. The VR movement, which is headed by companies such as Facebook owned Oculus, Samsung, HTC, and Google, has received most of its attention from video streaming services and members the video game community. However, this technology has significant implications outside of the entertainment industry, specifically for educational institutions and businesses.  Furthermore, with VR now having have finger-level precision and constantly improving performance, as well as the public release of VR headsets, many believe that a Virtual Reality driven world is closer than ever, meaning that these implications could come to fruition very soon.
     Virtual Reality Technology could serve to significantly better educational experience for both students and teachers and lead to a more experienced and informed generation through its ability to exceed current educational limitations. One such way that VR will better education is through eliminating the need for a physical classroom. Although traditional classrooms will likely continue to be used for the foreseeable future,  VR will at the very least make it so that a student or teacher who is ill or unable to attend class for some reason could still be present in a virtual classroom, where the experience will be identical to a traditional classroom. This will ensure that no student has to miss important concepts, and possibly hurt their grade in a class due to illness. As a student, I agree with the articles that I read, and think that it would be wonderful to attend class from the comfort of your bed when you are not feeling well, so as to not fall behind. Similarly, a professor will not have to cancel class due to sickness, and will still be able to maintain their teaching schedule. However, more significantly, VR will allow students to get hands on experience with a wide array of ideas and subjects, allowing them to more easily grasp concepts. Students will be able to virtually do experiments that were either deemed to dangerous or to expensive to do in a traditional classroom, and they will also be able to visualize a great deal of subjects, from the planets to historical structures, as if they are actually there. VR will also eliminate the problem of a limited budget for field trips, as they will be able to go anywhere in a virtual environment, and experience many things firsthand, significantly aiding their learning. For these reasons, VR will be essential in schools in the near future, as it will allow students to have a wide breadth of experiences and hands-on knowledge in a variety of subjects,  rather than simply reading the concepts out of a textbook.
     Virtual Reality will also be significantly useful in business applications as well, much for the same reason that it was useful in education. By using VR headsets, companies will be able to hold meetings, interview candidates, or meet with important clients without all parties being in the same physical location. This will be extremely useful, especially for international companies, as it will not only make scheduling significantly easier, but eliminates a great amount of time and budget that is currently being spent on travel as well. VR would also allow companies to provide new employees with more in-depth and hands-on training sessions by using the headsets. New employees could complete their tasks in a virtual world while they are learning in order to master the skills, without risking that they mess anything up if they make a mistake. This will likely lead to more efficient employees in many cases, improving the overall performance of companies. Perhaps the most interesting prospect of using VR for a business, however, is the ability to test a product in a virtual setting. Companies could test their product in its early stages, ensuring that it performs well and is safe, without spending any additional money. This advance will lead to cheaper initial production costs and more consistent final products, something that it is very important for any business. By implementing VR technology, businesses will have a clear advantage over the way any current business runs.
     While I do look forward to VR headsets for the entertainment value that they will provide, I am also very excited for their implications for businesses and education. I agree with the articles I read in thinking that VR technology will better our society as a whole through its various benefits in these fields.


1 comment:

  1. The introduction of VR technology is a very innovating and impressive invention in today's world. What it is not is a substitute for real world experience. In this article phrases such as "hand on" and "experience first hand" are inaccurate. While this new technology does allow users to feel as if they are experiencing something first hand, they are still confined to their own surroundings. Just because you may use a Virtual Reality device to explore the waterfalls of Costa Rica, does not mean you have moved an inch from your living room sofa. All you have seen is a video that has made you feel like you have traveled the world and gained insight into other cultures, when in fact you have not. While this new technology is entertaining and does make users feel like they are experiencing new things, it is just a fantasy.
    This idea of confusing virtual and actual reality is especially important in terms of education. You cannot replace the experience of learning in a physical classroom. While it would be beneficial for a student to use VR once or twice when ill, it is not a substitute for in classroom learning. Virtual reality devices take away from the interacting with other students, which is vital in childhood development. There is also a loss of communication between the student and professor. A teacher would not be able to recognize if a student is being treated well at home or is struggling with work, if they are not physically in front of them. VR technology is innovating and a step forward in technology, however, it cannot be used as a substitute for real life experience and education.


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