How Virtual Reality Can Help Kids and Education

Three-dimensional printing, virtual reality, virtual classroom... Our children may not have encountered these technologies yet. Even outside the school. But it is quite possible for some of them to enter that kind of education before they graduate.

Can you imagine a better gift than a LEGO kit for a 10-year-old child? Instead of it soon it will be an access to a... 3D printer. It seems the rapid development of this device and its declining prices in the foreseeable future will become an essential necessity in every classroom.

Instead of being restricted in their virtual games the imagination of children can be stimulated and 3D printer can even help them to explain much better any idea. If they find it difficult to express with words, they can easily print and visualize it.

In the upper grades that leads to their first attempts in sophisticated design and prototyping. When they mastered CAD programs lately, they will understand what it means to save time and costs actually.

For teachers who have never stopped seeking new ways to teach, it sounds also promising because the device can more easily help to explain more complex concepts. For example, molecular structures simply could be printed in three-dimensional form.The more resourceful of them may be able to print even a philosophical concept.

Virtual Reality

Frankly, virtual reality (VR) still looks like a laboratory experiment. But in video games, sunglasses with built-in computer, and internet connection or some applications for astronomers, plus new generation helmets and goggles produced by HTC Vive and Oculus Rift it is already a fact of mass consumption.
Nowadays VR education is used limited in applications for smartphones and tablets to help us to add new information layers.
But the true experience starts when you realize that your hands - squeezing the phone in front of your eyes - are really distracting. When entering, the intelligent glasses or contact lenses one cannot only be able to receive commands and collect information, while studying something, but to train remotely, thousands of miles away from the classroom.
Just think what horizons similar technologies will reveal to those who love history and archeology. On certain level they will be able to walk in Ancient Rome and Ancient China, interacting not only with objects and images, but also with VR characters.

See the world in which children grow up in the Internet era retaining their attention for a very short time, jumping from YouTube to Facebook and the 24 hours opportunities for digging into Google or Wikipedia.

It seems that this high tempo generation very soon will be out of place in a traditional school with its slow and gradual pace of teaching. One of the potential intersections between them both may be the learning through playing games. Video games that are considered an enemy of learning, can be transformed into a valuable ally.

KinectEDucation, for example, already gives to interested teachers and students a sophisticated way to learn together, including physical movements like playing musical instruments and master different dance steps.

The direction that few experts think about at the moment is the inclusion of younger students in the creation of new computer games. No, the question is not about complex elements of programming, but developing language skills, logical and systematic thinking, problem solving abilities, testing, storytelling or art cohesion.

Yes, it's true that this seems far from the vast majority of games sold in stores, but just dream for awhile what they could do when they grow up - those fourth-graders who have participated and created interactive games at school.

Now studying could be fun and exciting as it completely could spare the boredom of conventional school practices.

What is a virtual environment? What are the VR mechanisms?

Philosophically, the human nature is in deep contradiction between the inner and the outer infinity of physical limitations. In our everyday life we are used to it and we are usually hiding behind the everyday routine, reconciling us with this fundamental contradiction. For instance, all unbeliever's are sure that death is the absolute end of the individual existence. A virtual reality allows any person (alas, ostensibly) to overcome such similar limitations of human nature.
Virtual reality occurs through the interaction of the computer device and the human psyche. Every virtual environment is limited only by the hardware of the computer and the mentally challenged person. It is understood that the hardware capabilities of computers are rapidly increasing. Not so long ago, there was found an electronic implant, partly replacing the human eye.
There are many studies and opinions, that somehow are answering the question What does the computer do to a man?. Answers are most different and often conflicting. There are studies claiming that the enthusiasm for computer games destroys the psyche, and there are those that describe the positive effects from the use of computer gaming experience.

Mainly, it is possible to identify the following general characteristics of VR:

  • Virtual reality disinhibited many restrictions that limit a person in everyday life, as it creates the illusion of anonymity.
  • The virtual reality blurs human identity, strengthening dissociative forces that sometimes mess the integrity with other people. The physical body and its five senses do not play a decisive role in the virtual reality. Sense line of past, present and future becomes unclear.
  • In virtual reality, men can freely create their own personalized set of projections avatars, and it is - from the psychology point of view - not by chance. Human interaction and avatars are special types of mental dynamics. Avatars are different manifestations of the same identity, reflecting by them its subconscious impulses and fears.
  • Human experience in virtual reality is very similar to the experience that we gain in the world of our own dreams. And it is more or less surreal.
  • Most segments of the virtual reality are designed for constant stimulation of involuntary attention: bright banners, links, animations, etc. This creates a strong pulls effect and inhibits mechanisms of arbitrary (volitional) regulation.

Have you noticed how often we talk about the good old days, regarding VR games?

Perhaps, for many parents this is nothing more than a habit. Whatever the answers are, we cannot deny that, on the other hand, the good old days had also a lot of shortcomings, and that the times in which lives today's youth have their advantages. But one feature remains unchanged in time the need of games. Yes, games are a natural part of our lives, parallel to the human development in the past, present and future.
If we look deeper why the computer games look so trendy today, we will see that they, as games from our childhood, also develop certain skills in our children. Of course, these skills are different, but still very important. However, when it comes to kids and computers there are several things that you should recognize in the construction of your attitude about the digital world.
The requirements of modern environment is an important condition for small children to get accustomed to different device usage, to gain essential knowledge and also to develop skills. Activities that could be carried out are of great importance for childs attitudes. On the other hand, time spent at the computer depends largely on what children like and want to do. And last but not least, of course, there are unwanted risks in the global network that they early or later may face.
And here come probably the main questions. How long our children have to spend in VR environment? What kind of environment, it must be? Do they need to be restricted?
Well, again we are searching for answers, which are quite difficult to be found.
In other words, every child is different and we, being parents, must know what kind of environment it has to be suitable. Here are a few listed things that we can rely on when making certain choices, concerning the development of our child:
  • To be interested in the online lives of our children. This is important both for them and for ourselves. Safe at home, does not always mean that safe things are going to happen to them on the Internet.
  • Establish clear rules. It is good to have rules not only for time spent at the computer, but also for the activities. The PC is no longer just for fun. There are countless websites that offer activities that develop writing, reading, math skills, artistic skills, learning the language and many others... All this is cheerful and fun! And what is better than childs abiliety to learn while playing VR interactive games? And what is better for parents than to learn together with their children while playing.
  • Programs for Parental Control. Such programs are useful when it comes to protecting children from harmful content on the Web.
  • Manage risk and harm. Risk is nothing more than an opportunity, along with the positive experiences of the child. Therefore, it is better for children to take risks, but knowing where and how to seek help if something goes wrong.
  • Software. The software that we use when surfing, it is also important. For example, to make sure that our children come in well maintained sites, we should've secured the necessary applications, which will take into account that our antivirus program is updated.
These recommendations are part of best practices for online use. However, communication and trust relationship between us and the children is the basis for all actions we should take.
And remember that the VR world, by all means, is not an original evil. As it has always been in human history, to turn something into evil or good can only be done by people. The new information society gives a person a huge opportunity, but also puts it in front of many temptations and threats.
After all, the game, real or virtual, is the main ingredient added to the contemporary development, that make our lives interesting, that support curiosity to explore the world, not only for children, but also for the child in us, being their parents!
Published: 2016, September 26 / 09:00