After looking at and reading about both sides of the argument, my feelings about virtual reality use in the classroom had not changed.  Just like most other things we have access to and have been introduced to in the world of education, there is a time and a place for everything.   I can usually find the place, but the trick comes in finding the time to implement these tools.  

I do not think that virtual realities should replace live interactions.  I have decided that in most cases, they are a great precursor or prep for the actual field trip or experiment.  Nothing replaces hands on experiences.   We also need to get our students up and moving and exploring.  They do enough of sitting behind a computer or in front of a TV at home, that we need to use our resources wisely in the classroom.  In conjunction with that, we are competing with the technologies they have at home.  If we are going to continue to keep their attention in the classroom, we are going to have to find sites they will engage them in their learning.

I do think a huge advantage of virtual realities is its ability to give students the opportunity to travel to and see places they may not otherwise see or experience.  I teach in a school where many of my families do not have the means to travel, and virtual realities can open up the world to these students.  They should not miss out just because of their socioeconomic status. 

Just like everything in our classrooms, we need to find balance.  We need to integrate virtual realities with our other tools.  Virtual reality should enhance our current lessons, not replace them.


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Comment by Rich White on August 7, 2012 at 10:41am

... Here is a project you may find of interest regarding 3D immersive environments in schools using highly visual & interactive hardware - its a bit dated as these prototypes are 5'ish years old but it demonstrates compelling use cases.  I traveled a bit with Smart Technologies to a few trade shows several years ago demoing the Edusim & "immersive touch" user interface and they have since included a bare bones version of this Edusim  UI in the latest version of notebook that allows the including & manipulation of Google 3D Warehouse & Sketchup models.  I think the use cases are compelling though the field of including these open environments in the classroom is still an emerging field ... My projects page is located here & includes a few more 3D virtual environment use cases ... feel free to take, borrow, re-use any of those resources or message me if you have any questions, observations, etc.


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