Mixed Reality in Education: boosting students’ learning experience
What if students could learn History by visiting stunning ancient ruins in Greece or significant war sites in Vietnam, together with their teacher, without leaving the classroom? With Mixed Reality in Education this is possible, providing an immersive and more effective learning experience to children and young students. Let’s see how.
What is Mixed Reality?
Mixed Reality is a blend of digital and physical experiences, where users immerse in a 3D space resulting from the interaction between humans, computers, and digital technology. MR comes from advancements in cloud computing, computer vision, input systems, display technologies, and graphical processing.
This innovation enables us to exit the screen space and expand the digital experience in our living environment, making it much more engaging and participatory.
MR allows the interaction with data to move into the reality realm. We are more used to it than we may think. For instance, the filters that most social media apps provide for users to visualise virtual elements through their devices are an example of Mixed Reality.
An MR experience can develop in two different ways: Augmented Reality is an integration of virtual elements into the environment where the quality of the interaction depends on the level of technological advancement of the used device; Virtual Reality, instead, comprises a total substitution of the environment and it is usually only accessible with immersive VR devices.
Learning by doing: MR can simplify the teaching of any subject
There are two ways Mixed Reality can be used in education. The first is more traditional, it involves a desktop set up in which students explore a virtual environment using computer, keyboard, mouse, or some other input device, for example a wireless controller. This is properly defined as Virtual Reality.
The second is what today we use to identify as actual Mixed Reality. It is the fully immersive experience that requires students to wear an HMD (head mounted display) and motion controller, through which they can interact with an environment produced by a mix of real and virtual worlds, where physical and digital objects co-exist.
Thanks to this Mixed Reality, students can touch and manipulate objects generating a greater understanding of them, and it doesn’t stop here. Students can also interact with data sets, complex formulae and abstract concepts which could be more difficult to understand through teachers’ verbal instructions. For many students, in fact, learning by doing is easier than learning by listening.
This second kind of Mixed Reality provides a more engaging, fun and effective learning experience than the first one and, it goes without saying, than all the other traditional educational methods. And this is true for any subject:
Biology, anatomy, geology, astronomy. Subjects like these – traditionally considered as the most complicated – gain new learning opportunities thanks to the interaction with dimensional objects, human bodies, animals and environments.
Many classes around the world have already experimented with MR tools to design architectural models, to recreate historical or natural sites, to explore foreign Countries and get in touch with new, different cultures. Topics related to literature or economics finally became “real” and “touchable” thanks to the deeply immersive sense of place and time, provided by Mixed Reality devices.
Art and Creativity
Mixed Reality in Education enhances the collaboration among students, teachers and external educators, offering the possibility to work remotely together. Let’s imagine an artist inviting a class in his studio for a special workshop, a curator guiding thousands of children around a museum, or an actor leading a master class in real time with students from all over the world, making them collaborate on a common theatre piece.
Benefits of Mixed Reality in the classroom
Mixed Reality in Education gives professional educators new innovative possibilities to explore with learners thanks to its features:
- Engaging: direct experience generates an effective way to captivate those students who struggle, or it can just provide another opportunity to boost the engagement during lessons at school.
- Universal: regardless of social, economic or geographic disparities, MR at school brings together people and encourages human interaction.
- All-purpose: as said before, Mixed Reality can be used to teach any topic, because it is easier to see and hear something instead of having it explained, above all with abstract concepts.
- Faraway worlds: using Mixed Reality devices, students and teachers can go back in time, interacting with objects, animals or human beings that are no longer existing: dinosaurs and primitives get a new, more realistic image in learners’ minds.
- No geographical limitations: it is not always simple to plan the perfect school trip. Students’ safety, as well as school’s budget, often affect the range of choices when it is time to decide where to go. Thanks to MR, the class has no more limits. Having a walk on a ziggurat in Chichén Itzá, as well as diving down over the coral reef, is now possible whenever we like.
Acer Windows Mixed Reality Solution
Based on the Windows Mixed Reality application platform, Acer Mixed Reality Headset will blend real-world and virtual content to create compelling interactive experiences. It works right out of the box and no room setup is required.
By targeting a large variety of PC specs and thanks to 6 Degree of Freedom positional, Acer Windows Mixed Reality solution will let users walk in the available virtual space. While, to cover long distances, users will use teleportation.
Live experience of Mixed Reality
Virtual and Mixed Reality has been one of the main topics discussed and explored at “Next Generation Learning” during the Acer EMEA Education Solution Centre Summit that took place in Barcelona on May 17th – 18th.
Exploring the latest technologies that are entering the world of Education, our Education Partners had the honour to experience new ways of making the whole live classroom experience more engaging, by interacting with holograms thanks to Microsoft HoloLens (as you can see in the video above).
Here’s a video from those amazing moments:
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