- Interesting facts and figures about VR, AR, and holograms in education
- How do immersive technologies improve education?
- Project HoloLearn enriches social interaction and improves remote teaching
- AR, 3D printing, and holograms help medical students and surgeons practise
The future of learning will be shaped by immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D technologies like holograms. Immersive technologies have the power to enrich learning experiences and truly engage learners, which helps improve understanding and retention of new knowledge. These technologies make for invaluable educational tools across an extensive range of subjects and are just as effective for primary school learners as they are in higher education and beyond. VR, AR, and holograms are critical components of the distance learning or virtual learning environment (VLE) and help transform the learning experience into a fully immersive and much more engaging and stimulating one; a learning experience that can be combined with traditional teaching methods to improve learners’ grasp of complex topics and concepts. Holograms can increase conceptual clarity, enable 360-degree visualisation of abstract concepts, and vastly improve interaction between learners and educators. Experts agree that there’s a myriad of valuable lessons to be learned by the inspiring immersive experiences that spearhead the way to transforming education.
“To prepare learners adequately for the world of tomorrow and ensure they have the skills to succeed, we need to radically transform our entire education system. This impending transformation will be driven by emerging technologies like VR, AR, and hologram technology”.Futurist Richard van Hooijdonk
Futurist Richard van Hooijdonk says: “To prepare learners adequately for the world of tomorrow and ensure they have the skills to succeed, we need to radically transform our entire education system. This impending transformation will be driven by emerging technologies like VR, AR, and hologram technology. Educators are increasingly employing these technologies, which allows learners to better engage in the learning process, visualise abstract concepts more efficiently, and retain complex information more easily”.
Interesting facts and figures about VR, AR, and holograms in education
According to a study conducted by PwC, 40 per cent of VR learners see a significant improvement in their confidence levels compared to traditional classroom learners. Another benefit of VR in education is that it is a significantly cost-effective way to provide large-scale educational content. In fact, VR costs are about 52 per cent lower than the costs of using a traditional classroom. Compared to traditional classroom learners, VR students completed their training four times faster, which is attributed to the fact that VR training facilitates increased engagement and focus. Another takeaway from the PwC study is that VR learners felt almost 3.8 times more ‘emotionally connected’ to the content they interacted with. Some 75 per cent of learners partaking in an ‘inclusivity course’ realised, for instance, that they were not as inclusive as they assumed themselves to be. Some research has indicated that using VR, AR, and hologram technology in learning led to a 8.8 per cent average increase in memory recall, compared to desktop learning. Other studies show that using training methods that incorporate VR, AR, and hologram technology results in a 75 per cent retention rate – compared to the retention of information gained from lecture-based learning and reading, which is a mere 5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. A recent Lenovo study found that 41 per cent of parents and 54 per cent of educators are keen to increase the use of VR, AR, and hologram technology in the classroom.
How do immersive technologies improve education?
Studies have shown that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can be more effective learning tools than many other traditional teaching methods. VR and AR enable the creation of immersive lessons that are engaging and impactful and offer learners opportunities to explore the impossible, delve deep into complex concepts, and even ‘travel the world’. By really immersing the learner into the educational material, VR and AR create stronger associations between subjects and environments than other educational methods. This enables learners to better engage with and understand concepts. VR and AR have also proven to improve knowledge retention and memory power, boost engagement, focus learner attention, improve communication and collaboration skills, and enhance awareness, empathy, and emotional intelligence.
ClassVR, for instance, is a VR and AR system for the classroom that provides an immersive and highly engaging experience for students of all ages and dramatically increases their ability to understand and retain information. The ClassVR system consists of 8 headsets and 8 controllers, features user-friendly interfaces, gesture controls, embedded educational resources, and easy-to-use teacher controls. The system includes more than 1.000 preloaded activities and also offers options to create your own content. The accompanying ClassVR Portal supports virtual, augmented, and mixed reality content and enables students and teachers to create, upload, and share their own content. This helps create a collaborative community of global educational resources. Using the ClassVR system, students can hold virtual objects in their hands, interact with them, and learn about anatomy, engineering, science, mathematics, and more. The system even allows teachers to review each student’s ‘point of view’ to determine whether he or she is focused on the right content.
Project HoloLearn enriches social interaction and improves remote teaching
The current online communications tools used in education are fraught with limitations, especially when it comes to natural interaction, which can negatively impact learning. Holographic technology can provide promising tools that enable more life-like interactions in virtual classrooms. Project HoloLearn (holographic learning), a sophisticated interactive educational system, was initiated by the NewMedia Centre in collaboration with the LDE Centre for Education and Learning and the TU Delft student council. The project aims to use holographic technology to enrich social interaction between students and educators during online learning and improve the educational process. Another objective is to evaluate the possibilities of seamlessly integrating hologram technology into remote teaching and compare the outcome of this type of teaching to video-based remote teaching. As part of the project, a virtual classroom is created, in which students and educators can get together simultaneously – irrespective of their actual physical locations. Students wearing an AR headset can see a hologram of the educator in the virtual classroom, and the educator can see the individual students in a 3D environment – one at a time – by switching between them. Another way the holographic technology is used is by placing a Holo Screen inside a real-world classroom, in which students are physically present. A hologram of the educator, who is presenting from a transmission room, is then projected onto this screen. Project HoloLearn has made tangible progress and will continue further research and development with increasing student involvement.
AR, 3D printing, and holograms help medical students and surgeons practise
In recent years, AR is increasingly used as an aiding tool in healthcare, including orthopaedics, neurosurgery, urology, and so on. An essential element of medical students’ education is anatomy knowledge, which is generally taught via cadaver-based instruction. But now, a prototype of an innovative tool that combines AR and a tangible 3D-printed model is being tested and evaluated by 62 medical students attending the human anatomy course at the International School of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Bologna. The tool, named AEducaAR (anatomical education with augmented reality), provides options for the students to explore and manipulate the model, which enables 3D and topographical learning, improves long-term information retention and comprehension of anatomical structures, and enhances students’ motivation to learn.
And as part of Project Polaris – a collaborative effort between the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University Health System, and Microsoft – medical students are supplied with holographic technology, mixed reality training, and the use of Microsoft HoloLens 2 to help them study anatomical structures and practise medical procedures. During the project, 3D holograms are projected from the HoloLens, providing a visual presentation of real-life clinical scenarios. Using special instructional software, developed by NUS Medicine and Microsoft Industry Solutions, med students can practise various clinical procedures, such as inserting catheters. Project Polaris offers three levels of training difficulty to cater to students of varying levels of experience and competence in clinical anatomy and clinical soft skills. The aim of the project is to support the development of new clinical applications that will improve and refine medical training, increase patient safety, and enhance clinical processes.
A team of neurosurgeons at the National University Hospital (NUH) has also been testing holographic technology – to locate brain tumours during surgery. During the surgical procedure, the surgeons wear HoloLens 2 holographic visors and superimpose a hologram of a patient’s brain scan directly onto the patient’s head. Assistant professor Yeo Tseng Tsai, head and senior consultant at the division of neurosurgery at the NUH, explains: “With the HoloLens, you’re looking right through the skull, the brain, the skin… you can see right where the tumours are and know where to make the incision. So it’s much more intuitive for the neurosurgeon”. So far, the team has already carried out approximately 15 surgeries using the technology.
New technologies will keep emerging, completely changing how we live, work, and learn. And in the past couple of years, immersive learning has transitioned from limited-scale experimentation to a multi-million dollar global market that continues to expand at a rapid pace. And this is no surprise, because in order to ensure that all learners’ needs are met, education is undergoing a transformation and is increasingly integrating advanced technologies. VR, AR, and hologram technology are increasingly used in classrooms and training centres across the globe to facilitate immersive simulations, science experiments, and virtual outings. These technologies have been proven to improve engagement, enhance knowledge retention, increase focus, yield better overall educational outcomes, and help all learners – irrespective of their location, ability, social background, or means – to reach their full potential.