About forty percent of school students in Australia are regularly bored, unproductive and struggling to keep up with their peers, according to a report by the Grattan Institute.

But immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and gamification are gaining momentum and helping us embrace new ways of learning.

Teachers from all levels of education are now incorporating new technologies to make the learning experience more fun, engaging and satisfying.

Creating a virtual world

VR gives teachers the opportunity to create a virtual world via computer-generated simulations of 3D images and environments. The end result can be pretty realistic, particularly if you add other sensations such as vibrations and sounds into the mix.

Research has shown that AR can be used to increase students’ motivation. Two motivational factors, in particular, were found to be fostered more with the augmented reality model; students’ attention and satisfaction. Other studies have found that AR systems improved learning outcomes, collaboration and knowledge construction.

There are certain areas where VR and AR could be of particular use, such as medicine and architecture. Subjects such as these can use these technologies to enhance the learning experience by allowing students to interact with rendered visuals, creating an experience that cannot be achieved with textbooks.

It’s not just schools that can benefit from this type of learning. Online courses, such as this electrotechnology course, are also using simulated scenarios with fictional characters as a way to help give students a better understanding of the type of real-life work involved on a daily basis.

Applying theory to real-life scenarios can help prepare students respond should they find themselves in that situation in future. That’s why businesses also use it to help prepare their employees for potential scenarios that could occur in the workplace.

Learning with machine-learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already taken over many aspects of our lives but don’t worry, technophobes, ‘Judgement Day’ delivered by a deadly liquid metal robot hasn’t arrived just yet.

AI can make a positive impact in education by guiding teachers and students in their quests for finding and interpreting knowledge. The ability for computers to document and house a vast amount of data allows for personalised lessons and suggestions for resources based on the student’s behaviour or preference for consuming certain content formats (image, video or text-based).

Machine learning can also assist with giving students real-time feedback for some of the more mundane assessment work during a course. Instead of grinding down a teacher’s will to live with endless marking, a program can take care of this instantly.

Making learning fun

Using immersive technologies is just one way to make learning more inclusive and engaging. Gamification is another. It uses elements of gaming such as levels, leaderboards and badges, as well as video game design, in a learning environment to increase enjoyment, engagement and participation in the classroom.

Gamification in education is already incredibly popular in countries such as the US and UK, where free apps are being used to create fun learning games for their students. Kahoot!, for instance, is reportedly being used by 50 million users every month.

Classcraft is another platform that lets you use role-play scenarios in your lessons. The idea is to build a positive classroom culture by creating a collective experience while keeping students on task.

Interacting with online lessons and forums

As well as introducing some friendly competition, role-play and games into a learning environment, using virtual social interaction can enable the exchange of tacit knowledge.

Encouraging interaction and discussion can now be done in different ways besides putting your hand up in a classroom. Students can discuss readings or lesson notes via chat rooms or message boards or even some social media groups.

Does this mean Facebook should now be encouraged during class? It’s a challenging question for educators, to say the least…

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