By India Today Web Desk: From doing hands-on work in school labs with each student trying to get the best insight into realistic visualization of the behavior of atoms in different combinations via VR (virtual reality), STEM education has come a long way. While on the one hand students find it immensely exciting to access real life experiences through digital intervention, it is interesting to note the far-reaching impact of virtual reality learning on careers.
STEM education has become an integral part of global education with the goal of providing students with maximum practical exposure and hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering, and math.
STEM has ushered in a new world of work, an era marked by rapid technological advancements transforming the way we live and work – robots carrying on intellectual conversations with humans, books transformed into eBooks, virtual reality headsets allowing you to dive into a molecular structure and learn about human anatomy in virtual environments. Not only is the present so vibrant with STEM, but what the future holds is even more exciting.
According to research, 80% of jobs created over the next decade will require some form of math and science skills. However, the question is, are we preparing our students well enough for these exciting next-gen STEM jobs? A technological marvel, virtual reality can integrate technology into education to prepare learners for the future world of work where STEM careers are likely to take precedence.
HOW VR ENHANCES STEM EDUCATION
To prepare for a future technology-driven world of work, it is important to integrate technology into education. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. All of these disciplines involve research and experimentation that can be difficult to understand and fruitless to learn without supervision.
Virtual reality is one of the most intriguing methodologies to prepare students for complex subjects and create a foundation for next-generation STEM jobs.
LEARNING NEVER GOT BORING WITH VR
STEM concepts require a lot of patience and relentless practice. It also requires following countless theories, formulas, and concepts that aren’t always fun to learn in the classroom. Students can easily become bored and disengaged while learning STEM concepts.
Virtual reality offers an engaging and fun way to understand concepts, making them better equipped to apply knowledge at work. Distraction-free learning in virtual reality helps teachers capture learners’ attention, thereby also facilitating meaningful classroom discussions.
FACILITATING COMPLEX CONCEPTS
STEM concepts contain a vast array of theories and formulas. However, since the majority of these ideas and notions are abstract, it can be difficult for a student to understand them by simply reading a text, hearing a lecture or even viewing a 2D diagram. With the use of VR technology, ideas and concepts become interactive, making them easier to understand.
For example, if medical students had the ability to observe, learn, and perform dissections and surgeries in virtual reality, they would feel more confident performing real-world procedures.
Virtual reality brings an uninhabited, non-judgmental environment to practice and learn repeatedly without distractions. Learners feel liberated because VR-based learning is in their hands, allowing them to learn at their own pace.
MAKE EDUCATION REAL AND PRACTICAL
After the pandemic, learning has already started to shift from traditional classrooms to more virtual classrooms. Thanks to virtual reality, students can enter virtual workplaces and campuses to learn and explore jobs that fascinate them.
For example, civil engineers can take a safe virtual tour of a construction site where they can design buildings; aerospace professionals can stand right next to a virtual rocket engine; chemical engineers can observe the interactions of chemicals without jeopardizing their safety. Virtual reality gives students the opportunity to experience a working environment from the inside before landing a job.
Furthermore, educational institutions that adopt new-age teaching and learning methodologies are also able to retain more students. School leaders are proud to introduce technological solutions to make learning fun, easy and experiential. They see it as an investment, not an expense, to maintain the prestige of institutions and keep pace with global advances in education.
IMPROVE TRAINING AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT MECHANISMS
Virtual reality opens a door of possibilities for training, skills and development. Through immersive environments, students can interact with their peers around the world, experience their live environments, and exchange knowledge with better synergies.
For example, a young student in India can actively participate in an immersive training session in Australia via virtual avatars, making the process more meaningful. Get an idea of the real environment of a geographically distant place and perform experiments virtually or create software; the sky is the limit where virtual reality can take you.
Immersive ecosystems can offer engineers-in-training enormous exposure to global skills and access to a wide range of job opportunities. This once again demonstrates the wide and intriguing range of potential uses for virtual reality, not to mention the many educational applications and users who will benefit from them.
New technologies such as automation, machine learning and augmented reality are changing job prospects in the global job market. According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), one billion jobs, or almost a third of all jobs worldwide, are expected to be affected by technology over the next decade.
Millions of new job opportunities are created every day, and millions of existing jobs are replaced with new ones offering better pay and recognition. With its immersive virtual environment and impactful applications, virtual reality has the potential to better prepare learners for next-generation STEM jobs.
This article is written by Mehak Aggarwal, Chief Impact & Enablement Officer – School Market, LMC
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