It was very difficult to find any information in opposition to virtual reality. Most of what I found were asides in pro-VR papers talking about the possible loss of actual human interaction and how if the VR world fails to adequately represent the real world it can cause problems for those that rely on it as a teaching tool. After doing the research I am even more convinced that VR will be a useful component of future education.
The VR worlds can offer a number of things that traditional classroom cannot provide, such as 1-to-1 instruction with hands-on experience. It can give the student instant feedback and guidance and note their progress in real-time. Have feedback given in this manner means students don’t have to wait, thus losing their train of thought, and can continue on with other reliant work. Students will be able to engage others even when not in class, and questions and answers can be worked on collaboratively by the class, creating more of a learning community as opposed to a learning competition in search of high marks. This, I feel, has been one of the downfalls of modern education, where we turn it into a competition, pitting student against student to see who is the smartest in some subject. It’s demeaning and entirely defeats the purpose of education. We are even seeing it done at the State level whereby schools and teachers funding/pay is based upon the performance of the students. This is not education, this is a competitive practice that only encourages cheating, lying, and misrepresentation. You can look to modern sporting practices to see the correlation between highly-competitive environments and problems that come with it. I think that VR, a system where students can work at their own pace as well as with others would alleviate the stress many students feel to continually outdo their peers. Students can feel good about their own progression in a particular subject because the VR world gives them positive feedback and encouragement. They can work with other students towards a particular goals as opposed to a particular grade. This type of learning is prevalent in higher education online class via Coursera and various OpenCourseware sites.
I think we should encourage students to look at them like games, but the way they should be designed will stimulate learning anyways. When people play video games they do learn a number of things they would have known anyways. I learned a lot about the U.S. Civil War simply by playing a number of different video games based on it. I’ve learned physics through simulations and pattern recognition skills through puzzle-based games. Make games that education, not educational games.