How AR and VR are improving the classroom experience

From the looks of it, AR and VR experiences are winning over school boards, parents, teachers, and students alike.
15 August 2018

VR and AR are making a dent in how education is delivered. Source: Shutterstock

Education hasn’t really been re-invented for a long time. For decades, children go to school, sit through lectures, do some projects, and give exams. That’s how an education is delivered.

And as effective as the classroom experience might be, there’s room to improve – especially with technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) getting more affordable – and that’s exactly what school and colleges are exploring.

It’s also an area that’s caught the attention of content creators, many of whom are tech giants such as Google and Apple and well-funded startups such as TimeLooper and NearPod.

In order to whet the appetite of the education market, some of the entry-level ‘immersive’ applications are available free of charge and as a result, and as a result, are quickly gaining popularity in markets like the US and EU.

360cities, for example, allows teachers to take students on a tour of Rome, Tokyo, London and several other places, right from a seat in a classroom. NearPod, on the other hand, offers free VR lessons on say, the Legacy of the Columbian Exposition.

Education and the growth of AR and VR in numbers

According to IDC, worldwide spending on AR/VR is forecast to achieve a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 71.6 percent over the 2017-2022 forecast period. Spending on AR/VR products and services is forecast to reach US$27 billion this year, a 92 percent increase year over year.

In terms of AR/VR headsets, IDC expects worldwide shipments to grow to 68.9 million units in 2022 with a five-year CAGR of 52.5 percent Despite the weakness the market experienced in 2017, IDC anticipates a return to growth this year, with total combined AR/VR volumes reaching 12.4 million units, marking a year-over-year increase of 48.5 percent as new vendors, new use cases, and new business models emerge.

“Looking ahead, consumers can expect easier-to-use devices at lower price points. Combine that with a growing lineup of content from game makers, Hollywood studios, and even vocational training institutions, and we see a brighter future for the adoption of virtual reality,” said IDC Senior Research Analyst Jitesh Ubrani.

AR/VR is winning over school boards

From the looks of it, AR and VR experiences are winning over school boards, parents, teachers, and students alike.

Although they’re not really re-inventing the wheel, they’re extremely powerful tools that can take engagement to a whole new level. As a result, students seem to be doing much better with AR and VR on the rise.

“By investing in this kind of immersive technology it will provide our children with experiences and sensations that they may never experience in reality and brings learning to life in a way that ignites their imagination,” said East Renfrewshire Council’s education convener Paul O’Kane. He’s just invested GBP 250,000 (US$317,440) to buy about 900 ClassVR devices.

There are plenty of examples of schools and colleges experimenting with AR and VR right now. And if companies get it right, it could become a billion-dollar market in no time.