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Virtual reality is a piece of technology that is capable of transforming teaching and learning, traditional classroom lessons are termed boring and non-motivating due to several reasons ranging from lack of proper instructional materials to the unavailability of labs and learning facilities. Virtual reality has been identified as a platform to address such challenges and propagate the understanding and comprehension of what is being taught in the classroom by offering to the learners an experience-based learning, activity-based learning and learner-centred learning content.

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Recent advances in virtual reality (VR) technology allow for potential learning and education applications. For this study, 99 participants were assigned to one of three learning conditions: traditional (textbook style), VR and video (a passive control). The learning materials used the same text and 3D model for all conditions. Each participant was given a knowledge test before and after learning. Participants in the traditional and VR conditions had improved overall performance (i.e. learning, including knowledge acquisition and understanding) compared to those in the video condition. Participants in the VR condition also showed better performance for ‘remembering’ than those in the traditional and the video conditions. Emotion self-ratings before and after the learning phase showed an increase in positive emotions and a decrease in negative emotions for the VR condition. Conversely there was a decrease in positive emotions in both the traditional and video conditions. The Web-based learning tools evaluation scale also found that participants in the VR condition reported higher engagement than those in the other conditions. Overall, VR displayed an improved learning experience when compared to traditional and video learning methods.
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Virtual Reality is implemented by a combination of technologies that are used in order to visualize and provide interaction with a virtual environment. These environments often depict three-dimensional space which may be realistic or imaginary, macroscopic or microscopic and based on realistic physical laws of dynamics, or on imaginary dynamics. The multitude of scenarios that VR may be used to depict make it broadly applicable to the many areas in education. A key feature of VR is that it allows multi-sensory interaction with the space being visualized. Here we look at how this combination of multi-sensory visualization and interactivity make VR ideally suited for effective learning and try to explain this effectiveness in terms of the advantages afforded by active learning through experiences. We also consider some of the applications of VR in education and also some of its drawbacks.
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Recent research in the area of multimedia conducted by the author in Australia, the United States and Latin America has re-confirmed the importance and effectiveness of visual features in teaching and learning materials. It has been demonstrated that multimedia can provide a very effective teaching and learning environment in such a way that the learning style preferences (visual, aural, text and kinaesthetic) of the learners are taken into consideration. According to the findings, the visual aspects and interaction with the multimedia system are the most preferred features amongst the surveyed students. In all of these studies, the surveyed students have also indicated that the visual features play a very important role in understanding the concepts. Based on these findings, further research was carried out to investigate the possibilities of creating even richer visual learning environments. The objective was to explore the learning effectiveness of virtual reality educational multimedia systems. Using the virtual reality multimedia, students from two different backgrounds (Nursing and Business) were given a tutorial on topics related to basic human anatomy. After the completion of this tutorial, each student was interviewed and invited to provide comments and feedback. It was concluded that virtual reality multimedia could enhance learning by providing much more realistic images and visual features. Both groups of students found the virtual reality multimedia teaching to be very effective in terms of ease of learning and its very close relationship with the real world. This paper reports the research findings of using virtual reality in teaching and learning. It also investigates the possibilities of incorporating virtual reality technology into the tertiary education courses. 1 This is the final version of the following paper: Nooriafshar, Mehryar and Williams, Ron and Maraseni, Tek (2004) The use of virtual reality in education.
Education in every sense is one of the fundamental factors of development. No country can achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital. Education enriches people’s understanding of themselves and world. It improves the quality of their lives and leads to broad social benefits to individuals and society. Education raises people’s productivity and creativity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances. In addition it plays a very crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution.
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