Virtual Reality Can Dull the Pain of Learning
…And your actual pain too!
Getting a kid excited about learning can often be a challenge. Whether you teach in a traditional public school, a private school, or homeschool your children, you know it can often feel like pulling teeth to get some kids to settle down and focus.
New technology may help alleviate that pain and it’s easy to see how it works. However, you might not know that virtual reality works as a literal pain reliever, and not just in education. Check out this study done by the University of Maryland that found the complete distraction offered by virtual reality can be a more effective painkiller than some opioids.
“The pathways through which we receive pain are the same pathways through which distraction travels,” said Amitabh Varshney, a computer scientist with the Maryland Blended Reality Center, in an interview with Geek Wire.
Using an opera filmed from three positions with VR cameras, users could explore the opera from three different vantage points, moving around on the stage and taking in all the details of the show. By engaging those pathways of the brain that deal with pain and distraction, virtual reality helps override the pain a patient is experiencing.
For more than two decades, the University of Washington has been designing a virtual reality world to help burn victims find relief. In the game, called “SnowWorld,” victims put on a headset and are surrounded by snow, snowmen, snowballs, and more. It tricks the brain and eases the pain.
Now, think about the pains involved in learning. The brain is endlessly curious…but also easily distracted. While curiosity should lend itself to learning, most traditional approaches don’t captivate the brain’s full attention. As long as there are windows, other kids, tables, pencils, breathing…kids will be distracted and that pathway in the brain will constantly engage with the outside world.
Virtual reality offers a way to not only cut out distractions but provide control over a learning environment that is practically unheard of. Researches agree, it definitely helps “dull the pain.”
Even the most active kid will sit down to play a video game now and then. Virtual reality takes everything kids love about video games and ramps it into a full-scale tool for encouraging memorization, exploration, curiosity satisfaction, and personal growth. The gamification of education gives students the chance to interact with their subject material and learn from the best teachers in the world.
Does this eliminate the need for teachers? Absolutely not! While virtual reality is a valuable supplement to traditional teaching, it should never replace human interaction. Children need the accountability and stability of the classroom and teacher. They aren’t supposed to be raised by our technology.
Imagine being a homeschooling mom or dad. You don’t know everything but you can bring a first-class instructor into your home at any moment to teach your children about biology or physics. If they don’t understand the material the first time around, that same teacher will completely rewind, start over, or provide further instruction. Interactive experiences and immersive games give children the chance to further explore and comprehend their what they are learning.
VictoryVR has launched whole line of curriculum that gives students the opportunity to learn and grow through a variety of experiences. Whether they’re scaling mountains to learn about the rock cycle or visiting a river bed to learn about underwater ecosystems, VictoryVR is giving students the chance to explore the world.
It can be fun. It can be educational. And it can help ease pain, in learning and in life. Virtual reality is quickly becoming the way to go for teachers and doctors alike.
By Danielle Savage