Why are governments all over the world investing in VR and AR for Education?
The VR and AR industries are forecasted to be worth $108 billion by 2021 as almost all industries will incorporate virtual and augmented reality into training programs, products or services. The education sector is what we at Totem Learning are particularly interested in, although we work with businesses to create immersive experiences within their company using the same technology. What we have learnt is that there seems to be a growing interest, globally, around using VR and AR in the classroom. It doesn’t appear to pose any serious risks to health and it actually can be seen as beneficial since our own statistics have shown a progression in retention of information, overall performance and engagement.
These kind of statistics that crop us all around the world have not escaped the eyes of governments from several countries taking note and planning for the infiltration of VR and AR across the education sector. Here are a list of a few governments that are doing just that, some of the countries listed have received Totem products in one or two institutions!
Three years ago, the US Department of Education first announced the EdSim Challenge, calling on developers and the education technology community to explore new ideas around improving the syllabus using VR and AR. The winners are set to receive prizes from big names including Samsung and Oculus, but the grand prize is $430,000. This allowance and encouragement from the government suggests that the USA are keen to get involved in using new technology and to try out new methods of ‘Learning & Development’. Totem have been in talks with a university from the USA around getting students to learn through serious games in order to boost employability and deepen existing knowledge on business skills.
The UAE are also eager to teach students through VR. The Ministry of Education initiated a pilot project whereby 17 science-stream public schools will use headsets to immerse students in a variety of situations. Similar to the idea in Totem’ previous blog centered around what projects like Google Expeditions Pioneer Project does (allowing students to explore the far corners of the world, space and undersea), the headsets will do a similar thing. The government hope that this will encourage students to ask more questions and develop a sense of awareness about environmental issues affecting the world right now. Totem have worked with LEDS which is based in Saudi Arabia through translating our game, Unlock: Leadership, into Arabic so that students can practice applying existing business knowledge in a simulated environment.
In recent years, it is fair to say that the municipal and national governments have been investing a lot of money into this industry, more so than other countries, meaning China is on-track to being the leading country in installing VR and AR in the classroom setting across the nation. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has joined forces with over 170 private companies and researchers to establish the Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance (IVRA). China is also developing a new China VR Research Institute to consider greater possibilities for VR and AR use. The Beidouwan Virtual Reality Town is also being developed in the Guizhou Province to develop a VR/AR city ecosystem. Totem have worked with China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) to make our Business Game accessible to students there. This game allows business students, or anyone interested in how a business works, the opportunity to run a virtual company bearing in mind all the usual things a real business would have to with real consequences within the game.
With the revision of the national curriculum came the encouragement of government upon middle schools to incorporate virtual and augmented reality into the courses, in particular, technology courses. The aim is to help students feel more comfortable in designing things, communicating an idea and at each stage of the creative process. Augment seems to be the standard AR solution for most French schools but this is still only becoming popular practice now.
Two years ago, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning stated that the government are set to invest $363 million in the AR and VR market within the next five years. They want to introduce 3D sensors, motion tracking and so on across industries. A lot of this money will go towards planning for the education sector. There is a push to get South Korean students into entrepreneurship by 2020 which is why they want this plan established and running across at least 20 campuses.