In a generation chock full of tech-savvy children, the digital divide has never been more visible. It’s true that remote learning is far more common and advanced when compared to pre-pandemic classrooms, but digital divide data shows that educators, learners, and parents still have challenges to overcome.
Some of those challenges include accessibility of programs and equipment, a decline of physical field-trips, and a lack of social and emotional connection between educators and students. While these challenges may seem intimidating at first—especially when it comes to cost—solutions do exist.
That’s where Kai XR comes in.
We offer over 100 different field trips and interactive educational courses. It's our mission to provide educational opportunities at a global scale, and to help students develop a diverse worldview of society. With just a click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger, learners and educators alike can go on a trip across the ocean to the great barrier reef, or take an astronaut training course.
In this article, we’ll address a few aspects related to the digital divide, including:
- What the digital divide is
- What Kai XR’s programs can do to help bridge the digital divide gap
- What equipment costs and accessibility may look like
- What Kai XR can do for social emotional learning and the digital divide gap
- What Kai XR can do for educators
- How Kai XR’s VR programs can contribute to better learning
What is the digital divide?
A great way to help bridge the gap caused by the digital divide is to understand it a little better. So, what is the digital divide?
The words ‘digital divide’ are often used to express the inequality that can occur when digital and online resources are not readily available to all through internet, devices, or programs. Some studies suggest that bridging the gap in the digital divide can positively impact both students’ educational progress and empowerment.
Issues as a result of the digital divide can include:
- A lack of available educational opportunities for students
- Social isolation
- A loss of educational progress for learners
The recent pandemic has caused the digital divide to become far more visible than ever before as a result of remote learning. With the loss of in-person instruction and field trips, it’s been a challenge for educators, parents, and learners to maintain academic success and social connections.
So, how can the digital divide gap be bridged?
By making technology and educational programs related to tech more accessible and available to learners.
We do exactly that with our virtual field trips and courses, which are designed to work on a variety of devices, and include access to many different subjects and virtual locations. They’re not only great for learners, but also allow educators and parents to join in on the experience and to keep learners engaged and connected.
How can Kai XR’s VR programs help bridge the digital divide gap?
Although VR is often associated with video games rather than educational progress, VR classrooms and virtual trips offer students a different, more immersive chance at learning. In a VR field trip or class, learners are able to interact with the subject they’re studying and learn by ‘living’ the lesson rather than simply being presented with information. Sometimes learning can be difficult for students, especially concerning complicated topics. As a result, learners can feel pressured and struggle to retain information.
Arkansas State University has found that students may benefit from an increased use of technology. They also found that tech tools may increase motivation to read and help students stay engaged. With VR, students are immersed in a new world, and encouraged to explore and interact with it, creating a more engaging environment.
Virtual field trips and lessons allow students to immerse themselves in the lesson. Learners can explore concepts step by step with our field trips and courses, such as programs on our solar system, or other STEM topics.
The recent pandemic has severely impacted aspects of education, including limited trips or in-person instruction. Kai XR’s virtual field trips can be experienced any time, any where, allowing educators a chance to keep students on track with their education in an engaging and immersive environment. These VR experiences are also extremely accessible and can be used on a variety of devices.
Students who are unable to travel for field trips can instead interact with experiences from the comfort of their own home or the classroom. Students with learning disabilities like ADHD have also been able to maintain focus longer, while students with social anxiety can still experience field trips at their own pace, and without the fear of physical crowds. With our virtual field trips, learners of all kinds can interact with new cultures and professionals together, in a safe and comfortable environment inclusive to all.
Equipment Costs and Accessibility
Another concern some may have about VR learning are equipment costs and accessibility. Expensive equipment could discourage learners, parents, and educators, further widening that digital divide gap. These are definitely reasonable concerns, as early on, most VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift S, HTC VIVE Pro, and the Oculus Quest can cost around $399-1,200, plus shipping charges.
As VR has evolved, so have the equipment choices. A great example would be a headset like the Mattel View Master for $33 on Amazon, which can be used with a smartphone, or the Google Tech C1-Glass. There are countless other VR headsets as well as all-in-one headsets that are now readily available and affordable.
Keeping equipment costs in mind, Kai XR’s VR trips and programs are extremely accessible, as they work on a variety of devices like:
- VR Headsets
- Desktop computers
We understand that the digital divide affects many underestimated communities due to a lack of connectivity, and as a result, our programs are extremely accessible. You can launch them with a web browser. We don’t require any downloads! That allows for use on a variety of devices. As a result, learners, educators, and even parents are given a chance to connect and experience the different trips and programs that we have to offer with much less difficulty than other programs that require a download or installation.
Virtual field trips allow students to stay connected and still experience field trips without leaving their home or classroom. It’s Kai XR’s goal to help bridge the digital divide and position students for success by connecting 1 million learners with 360, AR, VR, and XR technologies by 2030. To help close the digital divide, our VR trips and courses can even work without wifi, as we are partnered with T-mobile to optimize 4G and 5G capabilities.
Kai XR, social emotional learning, and the digital divide gap
For learners, social connections and interactions are a huge part of educational success. It’s thought that the foundation of social skills for students begin in the classroom, and a big part of that involves social emotional learning, or SEL for short.
Simply put, social emotional learning is a process that helps students learn the social skills they need to succeed in life. Social emotional learning has many benefits, such as:
- Helping students make and maintain social relationships
- Increasing self and social awareness
- Allowing students to develop decision-making skills
- Supporting emotional regulation
While remote learning can sometimes have a reputation for lacking those important social connections, our products allow students from all sorts of classrooms and schools to interact. Students can work together from anywhere to solve puzzles and games and experience VR field trips as a group.
After VR experiences, educators can lead discussions about the lesson and how students felt about their course, offering another avenue for connection and expression. Using conversation starters or questions after VR experiences can also help students discuss and better understand the lesson. For example, after a VR trip about Ruby Bridges, educators could ask learners:
- How do you think Ruby felt on her first day at Frantz Elementary School?
- How do you think Ruby’s teacher felt on Ruby’s first day?
- What are civil rights?
- What do you think equality means?
With Kai XR, students learn to understand, respect, and work well with other students from all sorts of cultures. By exploring different places, cultures and subjects through Kai XR’s library of experiences, students are empowered to build the future they want to see.
Our virtual field trips and lessons can help keep students connected, and allow learners of all kinds to interact together on the same platform, helping to close that digital divide gap.
Educators and Kai XR
Along with being learner-friendly, Kai XR’s products were also made with educators in mind. Thanks to the variety of trips and subject matter, educators can pick a topic their students might find engaging, pair it with a VR trip or course, and use that experience to broaden the lesson.
VR field trips and virtual courses provide educators with interactive material that can be used to help learners stay focused, absorb the lesson a little more naturally, and also to have a bit of fun along the way. Educators can use Kai XR’s VR experiences to help learners better understand weighty topics, and to introduce their classrooms to places and cultures that they may not have access to outside of VR.
With VR experiences, educators can also explore concepts step by step with their students, keeping them engaged while tracking their learning progress.
For example, in a VR course about the human body, students can be guided through the different organs, bodily functions and structures like the skeletal and circulatory system one by one so that learners can absorb each one at their own pace. In this way, students and educators can break down these concepts together, explore them, and ultimately gain a better understanding of them.
Immersed in different worlds, cultures, and experiences, both educators and learners will have a chance to delve deeper into topics, and perhaps gain a greater understanding of difficult subjects in fields like STEM and social studies.
We have several different packages available, including the voyager package, which includes access to virtual field trips, as well as:
- 24/7 customer support
- Access to VR curriculum and lesson plans
- Professional development for educators
Thanks to our variety of VR experiences and different subscriptions, users can choose packages meant for small households, as well as entire classrooms. 7-day free trials are also offered, so that educators, parents, and learners can explore Kai XR’s library of VR experiences.
How Kai XR’s VR field trips can contribute to better learning
Our large and accessible library of virtual field trips is a great resource for all educators, students, and even parents looking to enrich the learning process. VR experiences can help learners:
- Break down and better understand difficult topics
- Make important social connections with classmates
- Experience historical events
- Take field trips to locations that may be inaccessible
- Visit educational institutions like museums and labs
- Offer a better insight into different cultures
By giving students equal opportunities to learn, connect, and explore, Kai XR is helping bridge that digital divide one VR trip and course at a time. Our library of VR trips explore multiple subjects like STEM, history and other cultures, as well as other experiences like short stories and playground activities.
STEM topics can sometimes be dense and hard for learners to fully grasp. VR trips and courses can help students gain a better understanding of them, and learn at their own pace. As a result, some learners may become encouraged to explore other STEM topics on their own, or to build confidence in their learning progress! Some of our STEM-related experiences include:
- Meeting a scientist working on a rocket
- Swimming with dolphins
- Experiencing an earthquake and learning how to prepare for a natural disaster
- Visiting a wind farm and learning about alternative energy
- Joining miners collecting minerals deep in our earth
- Learning about the solar system
We also offer a variety of different historical experiences that may help students better understand history, as well as VR trips to different cultural societies. These trips can teach learners how to develop tolerance, curiosity, and respect for others by introducing them to different environments, and allowing them to interact with them first hand. Some of these trips related to history and different cultures include:
- A tour of the White House
- A trip to Chichen Itza
- A trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument
- A course about the people of South Sudan
Along with educational VR trips and courses, learners can also access a variety of other trips meant for play, and storytime programs that include popular activities and well-known cartoons. Students can play with their classmates in a safe and educational environment, and explore:
- Kobe Bryant’s final game
- The Lion King
- A candy coaster
- The Krusty Krab
- Hide and seek
With over 100+ different VR experiences, Kai XR continues to work hard to help bridge the digital divide by providing a community that is accessible, inclusive, and safe. Able to be used on a variety of devices and even without wifi, Kai XR continues to give educators and parents the tools they need to help students to develop important life skills, and connections.