Virtual Reality

The Possibilities for VR to Transport Students Appeal to Teachers

1-to-1 programming up and running? Check. Blended learning in place? Check. Then maybe it's time to add virtual reality to the classroom too. In a recent survey more than 9 in 10 teachers (93 percent) said they believe the use of VR would "excite" their students, and 8 in 10 (83 percent) say it might improve learning outcomes.

The survey was run by a market research firm on behalf of Samsung, which sells its own VR headgear. Among the findings: Although only two percent of teachers reported having tried VR in the classroom, 60 percent said they would like to add it to their learning technology arsenal. Almost 8 in 10 respondents (77 percent) said they believe that VR could help students gain a better understanding of learning concepts, as well as increase collaboration (71 percent) and help motivate students in the classroom (84 percent).

The results were released during the International Society for Technology in Education 2016 Conference, taking place this week in Denver.

The survey queried a representative sample of 1,011 K-12 teachers across the United States. The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The allure of being able to send students on virtual experiences — such as flying alongside the Wright Brothers or trading stocks on the floor of a stock exchange — is the big draw for VR among 7 in 10 teachers (72 percent). Almost as many — 69 percent — said they could transport students to distant lands to make landmarks become real. And 68 percent reported that they'd use VR to explore inaccessible places, such as the inside of a volcano.

The primary areas for application are science (82 percent), social studies (81 percent) and history (81 percent). More than two-thirds (68 percent) of teachers said VR would have a bright future in helping students grasp concepts, such as watching a chemical reaction to better understand a science lesson or viewing a video trailer for a book to get them engaged more quickly.

"As we saw with Chromebooks, tablets, digital curriculum and game-based learning, emerging technologies can have a profound impact on student success and virtual reality has the potential do the same and more," said Ted Brodheim, vice president of vertical business at Samsung Electronics America, in a press release about the survey. "We're excited to work with educators to create new learning opportunities with virtual reality."

Samsung sells Gear VR, a $100 headset that runs Oculus VR software and delivers imaging through Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones, including the Note5, S6 edge+, S6, and S6 edge. (The company is currently running a special that provides a Gear VR unit with the purchase of a Galaxy.)

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.