AR and VR – the Next BIG Thing in STEM?

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What Exactly Is the Role of AR/VR?

When it comes to understanding the structure of complex mechanical, biological, or other systems, the text surrounding it is not sufficient. With the onset of STEM Education, we need to realize that what we call the revolution in learning and pedagogy is more of an interaction and problem solving based approach. Augmenting or virtually creating a new reality is indeed a necessity to make learning more and more experiential.

Think about it like this: What does it even mean when we say the need for experiential education is at its prime today? Why do we need this experience in learning? How will it change things? The answer is simple, yet profound. Dwelling more and more into the paradigms of subjective experience leaves us with a clear distinction of two things: Knowledge and Experience. Experience begets intuition and knowledge supplements it. If both do not go hand in hand, the intellect of the resource at hand dwindles.

In the current conventional scenario of things in education, we see that the students are subjected to knowledge and are expected to gather experience once their knowledge seeking is complete. This is an inefficient and wrong way of investing in the activity of education. What we need to do is to reach an optimized solution where both knowledge and experience complement each other and create better intellect, riddled with both in exact proportions. Let us dwell a little more on how this upcoming technology will indeed create the education system that we need.

AR and VR in STEM

As has always been firmly established, STEM education is synonymous with experiential learning in the real world. The term Augmented Reality is not only meant to simulate the reality that we need but also to enhance it. For example, consider this:

You are in the 8th grade, learning about the central nervous system and its interaction with the rest of the human body. You are done reading the text and the teacher has explained all the smaller bits of information about the neural networks and how signals travel and reflexes happen. But unfortunately, you desire to see it; to see the reflex happen in front of your own eyes! Regrettably, the authors of textbooks cant weave strong words that make mental images in your mind as clear as they could’ve been. So you rely on 2D images and schematic diagrams and churn your way through a lot of material to properly digest the concept.

Enter STEM education. Now your teacher brings in a VR headset and asks you to wear it. You wear it and the reality in front of you changes. You’re now looking at a precisely created simulation which is depicting the flow of signals and how the human body reacts to certain changes in physical parameters around you. All that churning over text and longing for clear visualization of imagery has been created in front of you, which is interactive, three dimensional and much more intuitive than all other resources at hand.

As Thanos said it

Reality can be what I want.

AR and VR can give you the realities you wanted with the right kind of learning.

Role of Artificial Intelligence

AI and VR/AR go hand in hand. Currently, the gaming industry is exploiting these resources and the gamification of educational resources can revolutionize education as we know it. Let us go into another reality (of an example, of course):

You are in the middle of a history lecture, learning about what Rome looked like in its prime. The walls, the legionnaires, the monuments, the aqueducts and everything else your history textbook talked to you about. Now your teacher gives you a VR headset and you are on the roads of Rome, traveling all the way, looking at everything just how your books described!

The thing about gaming experience is the freedom you have with risks. One can fabricate anything and see what happens and nothing would harm the real reality. Simply meaning if the gaming experience (stripped out of its reward system and compulsiveness) is presented to a student, the subject will be more of a canvas of possibilities where they can experiment freely without worries. Someone can overload a DC Motor and see what would happen, or maybe ionize the atmosphere and see what can happen. The possibilities are limitless.

AI will make this simulation environment possible by making it easy to generate more real experiences based on data gathered from volatile, non-first principle systems. Anything from the stock market to the weather of a city can be modeled and simulated. Coupled with AR/VR, this opens up a doorway to a canvas of endless possibilities.

In a Nutshell

Notice that in all the examples stated above, we usually talk about how the entirety of the system of AR and VR in education will not only complement the conventional reading systems but also enhance it. This is an important thing to note, as we tend to forget how simply humans have a tendency to reduce profound experiences into simpler chunks of information. Conclusively, the text in the books structured in a STEM-based format complemented with AR and VR will make humans stronger, intuitive and patient problem solvers.

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STEMpedia

Enlighten • Empower • Excel

STEMpedia blends theory with experiential learning which helps develop the must-have 21st century skills. It is the key to transform the youth of today into innovators of tomorrow.

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