How Virtual Reality Devices Can Help Kids and Teens Learn

Computing technology has evolved along the following continuum.

  • Personal computers – Windows and Intel powered desktops and laptops, Apple iMacs and MacBooks, Linux-based computers
  • Mobile devices – iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows tablets, smartphones and phablets
  • Wearable technology – Google Glass, Apple Watch and Intelligent fabrics for first responders and military personnel
  • Virtual Reality appliancesOculusRift1

The immersive experiences of learning through virtual reality can encourage your child to pursue learning and careers in technology, life sciences, product design and/or the building trades. Under the GUI has developed summer courses to introduce VR devices into their lives, and showing them where technology can take them into environments they never thought possible. Imagine, if you were a child who could one day be a virtual superhero, rescuing other children in peril. The next day, you might be researching marine life at the bottom of the ocean. Virtual reality can help young people to rise above disabilities, overcome fears, or learn new behaviours like road safety.

Children have embraced games like Minecraft for simulated exploration and construction of 2D worlds. Imagine taking Minecraft, marrying it with a device like HoloLens, and allowing your child to feel even more part of the creative process of building and interacting with a world of their own design. You may have to join your child in Minecraft to get them to do their homework, or come to the table for dinner. Or, maybe classwork and Minecraft could be united, teaching classes such as history, science or other subjects with a VR twist! Snow days could be a lot more productive, and virtual teaching experiences could mean fewer school year disruptions!

HoloLensMinecraft

The use of VR technology might be a concern for some parents who are already struggling with limiting their kids’ screen time or addiction to gaming, Parents and children will have to demonstrate will power to limit time spent in the virtual world, and not allow themselves to be addicted to VR gaming. If you have ever watched the TV series Caprica, (Battlestar Galactica prequel) you will appreciate the (somewhat exaggerated) potential of getting too deep into the VR world. Responsible self-governance and parenting will be a top priority in the use and development of games and experiences on Virtual Reality devices.

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What once was science fiction is now becoming technology fact. Devices range from:
• A downloadable Android app and a DIY cardboard “toy”
• A new twist on a toy first introduced in 1939 in the VR View-Master
• The head mounted Oculus Rift & HoloLens, which are either tethered to a computer or not

Virtual reality devices of the present and future create great opportunity, but will require a lot of supervision and discipline. Two great quotes which apply to VR technology come from a couple of very different heroes of our modern world:

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
– Spider-Man

“We are all created equal in the virtual world and we can use this equality to help address some of the sociological problems that society has yet to solve in the physical world.”
– Bill Gates, The Road Ahead