Will virtual reality eliminate the Monday blues?
As a manager, I’ve fought many battles with stakeholders in meeting rooms. What I’ve come to realize is that that none of those battles can compare to the war cries that I hear every morning from my 14-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, while I try to get them ready for school.
I am sure every parent can relate to the struggle of getting themselves ready for work while also ensuring that their child is woken up, washed up, fed and dispatched to school in one piece.
What if there was an alternate to the grind?
Imagining education via virtual reality
I am tempted to imagine a virtual school in the future – without the annoying morning routine, the horrendous commute or the Monday blues. My son would go up to his room, wear his VR gear and log in to a virtual classroom. Newton’s laws are gamified rather than having to learn them by rote. Nuclear explosions are simulated to show the extent of damage they could cause. A virtual journey through the human body makes biology classes a whole lot more interesting.
As we speak, schools around the world are tapping into the wonders of virtual reality. Thanks to apps like Google Expeditions, children can explore the Pyramid of Giza, visit NASA or discover aquatic life at the Great Barrier Reef, from their classrooms.
Harvard Business School is raising the stakes with a virtual classroom called HBX Live where participants can learn and engage with the faculty from anywhere in the world. What’s more, this MIT Dean has taken a leave of absence, just so she can start a university that will have no lectures, no majors and no classrooms.
Can traditional schools compete with virtual reality?
Introducing virtual reality into the classroom has created a highly immersive learning experience that traditional schools may never be able to replicate.
In the future, merging augmented and virtual realities with the physical world could change the face of learning; my son would sit at the breakfast table, wearing special glasses that would allow him to interact with all the three worlds – the physical, the virtual and the augmented. He could see the devastation of the war in Syria in virtual reality, switch to AR Mode to read about it in his virtual textbook while having his cereal.
Finding the right educational balance with Merged Reality
But, I am also thinking about the sheer joy on my daughter’s face as she shares stories about her friends at school. Being in a virtual classroom cannot equate the experience of shared joys and laughter with friends. The risk of isolation, even with empathetic eye contact and emojis, is high. Such a classroom could also deprive the child of a good role model in a teacher or mentor, which is again an important part of their development.
Nevertheless, the limitless possibilities of using virtual reality in education seems like the future is set to replicate the world of Jumanji, bridging the gap between learning and gaming and when augmented and virtual realities start blurring with the physical world, maybe there will be Merged Reality in learning.
And, my son may no longer crib about tomorrow being a Monday during our Sunday night dinners.
Interested in exploring in more depth how virtual and augmented realities could transform everyday reality? Check out our new ConsumerLab report on merged reality, including the six areas that a vast majority of our respondents believe will be transformed fundamentally by virtual and augmented reality.