Have you ever played a horror game on your console or computer and thought, “What if I was the main character being chased by a serial killer?”
Well, it’s possible through a technology known as virtual reality. Earlier, teachers in school used blackboards and a chalk to explain concepts to students. This later evolved to teachers using whiteboards and markers. However, in a few schools here in Oman, including the school I go to, we’ve started using smartboards, which use touch functionality instead of chalks and markers to explain and interact with students. Will virtual reality be the next evolution in schools? Let me first explain what virtual reality is all about.
Virtual reality (VR) is a system that gives humans the ability to experience a virtually simulated environment which can be explored in 360° using a virtual headset. Instead of using a joystick to control a particular character, with VR you can become the character, explore the world he is in, and interact with the available artificial environment included in the simulated world. However, other than gaming, there are plans to use VR in the education sector. Theorists predict that in the near future, students will be able to attend class, interact with books, and communicate with teachers and classmates, all virtually in the comfort of their homes using VR.
VR has numerous advantages that we can benefit from. The thrill of being in a virtual world – where you can do almost anything you want – can feel amazing. However, like everything else in technology, if abused, it can have disadvantages as well. One of the many disadvantages is that excessive use of VR can lead to addiction. As humans get addicted to VR, gradually they will not want to engage in the real world anymore. Another disadvantage is that using the virtual headset for an extended period of time can impact the human body, causing nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
VR can also lead to deterioration of relations, as most relationships and friendships are strengthened by personal human communication, and meeting each other in real life rather than through a reality that isn’t even real. Another major disadvantage of VR is that if the software being used malfunctions or crashes, or the headset breaks, it can lead to many problems. For example, if a student needs to attend class to revise for an upcoming exam, and he spills juice on his virtual headset, unless he has an extra pair, he’ll have to miss class, which can lead to a bad grade for his exam.
In conclusion, like any other technology, VR should only be used for its advantages. In my opinion, with the evolution of gaming and teaching in schools, who could ever disagree that VR could be the future of gaming, schooling and interacting with one another without having to meet people personally! Stay tuned as virtual reality becomes the norm in schools.
Hilal Tariq al Barwani