New Study Tests Effectiveness, Interest for Using VR in the Classroom

As part of a multi-phase study investigating the use of virtual reality (VR) as a teaching tool, Cornell University researchers found that while students were more interested in learning using VR,  actual learning rates were no different with VR than using traditional teaching methods such as hands-on activities and computer simulations.Natasha Holmes, PhD, senior author on the study and the Ann S. Bowers Assistant Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences in physics at Cornell, said that the VR study began based on her curiosity as to what type of classroom activity produces the best learning environment. “There is research out there that says that computer simulations and things like that can be as good as or better than learning from a more traditional, hands-on activity,” Holmes said in an exclusive interview with R&D Magazine. “When you go into a lot of cognitive science research there’s ideas that having something physical and tangible in front of you and being able to embody the experience improves learning a ton. Part of the idea is that we had this hypothesis that virtual reality might provide the best of both worlds with the embodiment of a real hands-on activity combined with the controllability of a desktop simulation.”

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