#3 Reasons Why VR will Change Education in India
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What are the words that come to mind when you think of education in India? Rote learning, crowded classrooms and one-track academic goals?
This is one industry that needs disruption. Education policy makers in India blame the huge population of this country and lack of quick scalability as the reasons why they cannot address the elephant in the room head-on.
Can This Change? Is This Changing?
I remember studying in an up-town school in Bengaluru with 110 kids in my class and just one teacher to handle us all. Yes, they handled us very well when it came to academic performance (expecting high marks) and uniformity (being uniform with not just what we wore but with our thinking too.)
Every industry, small or large, undergoes a revolution. The good news is that finally, education is undergoing a major revolution in India.
I have been working as an Educational Entrepreneur for 7 years now. I have met teens across the country, global school leaders and decision makers, and everyone agrees on one thing — technology is the best, easiest and most cost-effective solution that can drive us to our own Ed-revolution. With Virtual Realty (VR) no longer being just a fancy concept, this reality is closer than we foresaw.
Here are three reasons why VR is changing the way we learn in India.
#1: Large Ccale Impact
Learning = studying; Learning = attending a lecture; Learning = remembering definitions and facts. Phew! Horrific, right?
Fortunately, we are moving out of this school of thought into what really works – real learning. Even old-school textbook publishers like S. Chand are now exploring digital resources.
We can envision 100 great teachers delivering experiential learning in a classroom. How about 10,000 teachers delivering the same quality?
47.8% of India’s population is below the age of 21 years and to cater to this student population, we have 15,00,000 plus schools. These is a huge number, so how do you scale effectively? Make VR your new best friend.
For example , you can use VR to get a teenager to experience a bypass surgery at Narayana Hrudayala!
I have personally seen many schools across states and educational boards being very receptive to using VR content for their students to break down complex concepts, or to get a glimpse of NASA, ISRO, Silicon Valley, a music studio or education travel. Even career choices across the country can be sorted using VR. Schools like Bangalore International School, Stonehill and Kunskapskolan are using them in their classrooms in interesting ways.
#2: Immersive/Holistic Experience
The average attention span of an adult today is 20 minutes, which is why the popular TED talk format is 18 to 20 minutes long. Today, the average attention span of a teen is 10 minutes, which I still think is a very optimistic number. Maybe there is a reason why short films, 20-20 cricket and vines are becoming more popular among the teens. Why then do we still have class period between 45 and 60 minutes?
VR is best served in short blasts of 3 to 8 minutes. The immersive content helps to transport the student consuming this content into a new world or a new reality. Students enjoy truly multi-dimensional experiences.
In September 2016, when VR was just scraping the surface in India, we conducted an interesting study with school leaders, school board members and teachers from IB and IGCSE schools in India. We showed them content of 3 short VR experiences - life underwater, a race car and a pilot flying a plane.
Educators: Would you use VR content in your classroom?
60% said yes, 19% said Maybe and 21% said they need more time to decide.
We repeated this with students aged 14 to 16. The students belonged to three categories. Low income schools, IB students and CBSE students.
Students: Would you want to use VR for learning? 98% said yes; 2% said maybe
What does this mean? Students have wholly accepted this platform. They are excited to get on board. They are VR -ready, ready to get sorted.
#3: Cost effective:
Is VR really expensive? The first full-fledged VR content we created almost one year ago cost us a bomb! Over 12 months, we have subsequently decreased the cost by 10 times the original cost and increased our quality of content three times over. India is slowly seeing affordable hardware and software available for VR content, and of course the skillset to back it up.
For instance, if you are a school that is just starting off and wants to experiment with VR, I would recommend you start with low-cost headsets like DOMO, cardboard or a Procus. You can stream VR content on a mobile phone that supports a gyroscope and use the free content available on the internet
With the feedback that you get form your students after your pilot, pick academic subjects toughest for your students and start building VR content in-house. All you need is one content expert or storyteller and one tech expert, and you can invest in in-house cameras and software.
The beauty of content creation for the younger generation is that they love this platform, despite the newness and imperfections the technology may offer today. They are not nit-picky about why the color of the icing on the cake is a little off in the video. They use their imagination to connect the dots and take control of their learning outcomes.
VR is not just a novelty factor any more. It is real and is making a difference. It may be not in every school but sooner or later, everyone will be the beneficiary of this game changing technology, just like everyone has seamlessly embraced online shopping, payments and social media. With VR in education, we can get our educational and learning needs truly sorted.