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Story | Research
13 November 2019

Stepping into the virtual world of learning


A WISE workshop at the Paris Peace Forum has shown how tech is pushing back the frontiers of the education experience

Strategies for incorporating Virtual Reality into education have been explored at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum. through a workshop organized by Qatar Foundation’s global education think-tank.

As classroom technology starts to leave the traditional blackboard far behind, the event hosted by the World Innovation Summit for Education at the annual global governance summit showcased innovative education tools, demonstrate ways of creating immersive learning scenarios, and allowing guests to try cutting-edge devices for themselves.

The WISE workshop at the Paris Peace Forum demonstrated cutting-edge Virtual Reality technology.

Virtual reality lets learners step into a three-dimensional world, offering a 360-degree vision of learning that can foster a more complete understanding of concepts. “Classic e-learning is more about theoretical knowledge, to make people learn with text and video only, but with virtual reality, people experience real-life situations,” explained workshop presenter Thiên-Sinh Polodna, from startup Uptale.

“The first thing we think of with virtual reality is teleportation. You can send people to other places – places that are difficult to access, or that apply to their future work.”

The interactive nature of Virtual Reality is seen as a pathway for classroom engagement, appealing to tech-savvy youth – from bringing ancient civilizations to life to illustrating traditional STEM concepts in a new way. Virtual classrooms are breaking down borders, with teachers able to illustrate Newton’s First Law of motion by throwing a baseball straight into the glove of a student halfway across the globe.

Yet, as the workshop emphasized, the immersive nature of Virtual Reality has the potential to create even deeper learning experiences – both intellectual and physical – and to be a game-changer in the context of improving memory retention and helping to foster empathy.

The idea of using virtual reality and creating simulations is to make people remember more.

Thiên-Sinh Polodna

“Normally, an adult is able to remember 10 percent of what they have written down, 20 percent of what they have heard, and 70 percent of what they have done. So, the idea of using virtual reality and creating simulations is to make people remember more,” explained Polodna.

“The most important part in this is the emotion; the idea of having people live a situation and live an emotion. Emotion is a very powerful way to remember things.”

As those who attended the workshop were able to experience first-hand, even a simulation of a public speaking scenario can have a profound impact on learners of all ages, with Polodna saying: “Playing on empathy is a very powerful way to train people.”

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