In the modern classroom, teaching is no longer limited to lectures, textbooks, and that squeaky old whiteboard that doesn’t ever seem to fully erase. Thanks to the huge array of tech tools for the classroom, students are learning through experience.
According to The Association of Experiential Education, experiential education is any type of learning in which a student engages in a “direct experience” in order to take in a lesson. The AEE says learning in this manner not only increases a student’s knowledge, but also helps them:
- Develop real, immediately applicable skills
- Discover their own values in relation to the world around them
- Understand the communities in which the lesson takes place
Virtual reality (VR) in particular is bringing experiential learning to more students than ever before. That access is crucial, especially in a post-pandemic world where online learning is widespread.
Kai XR is where the experiential VR classroom and accessibility meet. Guide your students through a lesson and then use our virtual field trips to let them experience everything they’ve just learned.
Our library of high-quality, kid-friendly field trips gives your students the chance to reinforce their knowledge. Students can explore cutting-edge gene-editing technology, fly across the world to the Great Wall of China, and travel back in time to come face-to-face with dinosaurs – all before the end of class.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about educational VR as a tech tool for the classroom, including:
- The importance of tech tools for the classroom
- Hands-on learning through tech tools for the classroom
- How tech tools for the classroom promote diversity
- Accessibility in ed tech tools for the classroom
- Why virtual reality is one of the best tech tools for the classroom
Why Are Tech Tools For The Classroom Important?
Children are online now more than ever.
A Pew Research survey from April 2021 found that 81% of parents of a child 11 years old or younger said that their children have interacted with a tablet at least once. That’s an over 10% increase in one year, as only 68% of the same group of parents said their child interacted with a tablet in March of 2020.
Goodbye, dusty chalkboard era! Educators are rising to meet the expectations of a student body that is increasingly connected to the internet.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and school administrators were rapidly adjusting to add more technology to their curriculums. A report conducted by the United States National Center for Education Statistics for the 2019 – 2020 school year found that more than 70% of school officials said that educators in their schools were using technology for activities normally done in the classroom to a moderate or large extent.
Technology in the classroom is not meant to completely replace traditional learning methods, but rather enhance them. For example - a child who has grown up using touchscreen devices at home may take quickly to playing an educational game on a touchscreen device at school.
The data supports this – the same NCES report found that 41% of school officials said the technology they use in their schools helps students learn more actively than they would without it.
There are multiple ways classroom tech can be integrated into lessons in varying capacities to teach 21st century learning skills. Educators know best what their students need and can choose the right amount of technology to accompany a lesson and fit their classroom community.
When educators use tech tools for the classroom as a complement to normal lesson plans, students learn how to interpret and analyze traditional media, such as textbooks, while more effectively retaining the information that they actually learned.
After all, you may not remember every single social studies lecture, but you’d remember getting a personal tour of the White House from the president.
With VR in school, students can read a book about the history of the United States and then get a personal virtual tour of the White House by former President and former First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama.
The Best Tech For Classroom Facilitates Hands-On Learning
It’s clear that adding technology to the classroom helps students learn information effectively.
Even better? It can also be really fun (for students AND educators) to use.
One of the best ways for everyone in class to have fun and make learning connections is to immerse them in a hands-on project. Everyone loves a baking soda volcano.
When students start an interactive project, they start learning experientially.
As an added bonus, interactive learning helps kids hone real-world skills too.
Educator Amanda Martin says that students who learn through interacting improve their:
- Collaboration with their peers
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to address real-world challenges
The humble field trip is a perfect example of the intersection of experiential and interactive learning. Students get to experience and interact with an entirely new place that connects to what they’ve been learning about.
This connection shows in students’ grades, too.
According to research from the Journal of Human Resources, students who attend multiple field trips throughout the school year perform better in class and on tests and have more advanced cultural conscientiousness as they grow up.
One of the issues with field trips, however, is how much time they require to plan and carry out. Weeks or months of planning, coordinating, and collecting forms can be exhausting.
Kai XR’s 360º virtual field trips are just a click away – no chaperones required.
When going on a field trip through Kai XR’s library, not only do students get to experience a new place, but they can also take trips that may not normally be accessible to them.
Through the power of the metaverse, Kai XR’s VR field trips whisk students across the world, plunge them deep into the ocean, or launch them into outer space. Not only are these experiences immersive and interactive, but they also bring places that would never be accessible to students right into their classrooms.
Teaching Kids Empathy Through Diversity
One of the best parts of a field trip is getting to meet new people.
That may be the bus driver who picks everyone up from school. Perhaps it’s the guide who leads the group through an experiment. Or, maybe it’s a person who lived across the world thousands of years ago who is now immortalized in a museum exhibit.
Research backs this up. According to the Drexel University School of Education, teaching students cultural lessons:
- Makes students more empathetic
- Helps students better understand the people around them
- Makes students more receptive to new things
- Promotes a safe environment within the classroom
- Prepares students to work with people of different ethnic backgrounds later in life
It sounds simple – teaching children about people who are different from them helps those children become better people themselves.
Constantly traveling across the whole world isn’t quite accessible to most people, however.
Kai XR knows that field trips that promote cultural understanding are just as important as academic field trips. To teach social emotional learning in the classroom, our collection of VR field trips features an entire section focused on arts and culture and a section on social studies.
Kai XR field trips around the world take students to:
- The Washington Monument
- Vatican City, inside of the Sistine Chapel
- A performance of The Lion King on Broadway
- The Obama portraits at the National Portrait Gallery
- India, over the Ganges River
- Inside of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night
- Paris, for a tour through the city
- The city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia
- Mexico, to an ancient Mayan temple in Chichen Itza
- China, flying over the stunning Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge
Those are just a few of an assortment of over 100 curated experiences, all of which bring the whole world right to you.
If you specifically want to educate students about the history surrounding them, we also have multiple VR field trips dedicated to Black history month for kids. The field trips highlight many accomplishments and moments of joy throughout Black American history that may not always be written down in every history book.
Kai XR’s field trips educate and provide cultural insight to students young and old. In fact, we have two different types of viewing modes:
- Exploration mode - Meant for children under 12
- VR headset mode - Meant for children over 12
There’s no age limit to enjoy our VR adventures. Whether you’re looking for virtual field trips for kindergarten or high school, we have an adventure that fits.
In our VR field trip Dreaming in Za’atari, students enter the homes of three Syrian teenagers living in a refugee camp in Jordan. The teens talk about their dream jobs, wanting to travel and wanting to spread peace, even though they are displaced far from their home country.
Teenagers who go on this VR field trip will hear the same themes that underscore their daily lives: uncertainty, friendship, and longing for a sense of freedom. When they learn that they share so much with people who live in vastly different circumstances across the world, they learn to empathize.
Accessibility In Ed Tech Tools For The Classroom
Ed tech tools for the classroom are proven to help enhance students’ learning. But what happens when they aren’t available for every school?
Buying classroom technology, especially technological tools meant for each individual student (such as laptops), can get pricey. Schools are allocating more and more funds toward purchasing and upgrading technology, but it’s slow-going.
According to a report released in 2019 by the The State Educational Technology Directors Association’s database, 21 states allocated at least some amount of state funding toward digital instructional materials for students. That’s a 6% increase from the number of states that dedicated funds to digital instruction in 2017.
Exact data surrounding how much technology use in schools increased from 2020 – 2021 is not yet available. However, the passage of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in early 2020 gave schools more flexibility to spend money on technology.
Other than the funding from the CARES Act, however, school districts’ funds are primarily locally funded.
That local money doesn’t just go toward technology for students, either. Oftentimes, a school’s given funding encompasses everything for the school year: educational materials, staff and teacher salaries, building expenses and plenty more.
Ultimately, this means that the amount of funding a school can receive to spend on everything can vary widely depending on the school’s location.
Thanks to Kai XR, fluctuations in funding don’t have to mean fluctuations in access to tech tools for the classroom.
When Kai XR’s founder Kai Fraizer was working as an educator in Title 1 schools, she realized just how crucial field trips were to help her students connect to the lessons she was teaching.
Her school, however, could not afford to bus students to a museum and back.
So, after switching jobs and working in museums for years, Frazier got creative. She started her company in order to bring museum exhibits to students who would not otherwise get to experience them in school.
Now, Kai XR’s library is home to teacher-approved field trips not just to museums, but everywhere – even inside the human body. We’re actively adding to our library too, so lots of options for virtual reality for teaching will always be just a click away.
Kai XR’s field trips are both low cost and highly engaging. You can learn more about Kai XR’s pricing here.
No app or download is required to run Kai XR field trips. At minimum, our VR field trips require only a smartphone to work, so no fancy extra tech needed if it’s not available. They can also run on VR headsets and even transform any tablet into a vr tablet.
Why VR Is One Of The Best Tech Tools For The Classroom
Not only is VR accessible and able to broaden students’ horizons, but research shows that it is specifically one of the best ways to learn certain skills.
In a study of learning methods from 2018 published in the Journal of Research in Learning Technology, college students who used virtual reality to learn a lesson retained information better than students who used a textbook or a video for the same lesson.
The researchers attributed this result specifically to the immersiveness and interactivity of VR learning. It makes sense – an environment you can interact and learn with is more engaging than just watching an educational video.
Students in the study also reported a more positive learning experience overall than the students who learned through video or textbook. Not only did the VR help them learn better, but they had fun while doing it.
Now more than ever, 21st century skills for students are crucial in the long-term.
The American workforce is always shifting, but one consistent trend is that more jobs than ever are adopting online ways of working and training.
In a survey conducted in early 2022, Pew Research found that 61% of adults who are employed outside of their home are choosing to work from home instead of going into the office. Just 38% of adults interviewed said they would rather work from their office if it was open.
As the job market adapts and remote jobs become mainstream, familiarity with evolving technology will be a welcome skill. Some companies are already integrating VR specifically into their training. The results are promising.
PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a study across multiple locations comparing the effectiveness of new VR training with in-classroom training and online training. The VR training participants learned faster, were more emotionally connected and focused, and were more confident in applying their training than their classroom and e-learning counterparts.
The training in the study specifically focused on training participants on “soft skills,” which are job skills such as management techniques and leadership strategies, among other things.
Employers used to think that these skills could only be honed through working on them face-to-face. It turns out that learning them through VR is both more effective and faster than learning them in person.
This means that any child who enters the working world with prior VR training will have a huge advantage. Tagging along for an NBA All-Star Weekend? Put it on your resume, kid!
Taking The Next (Virtual) Step
Integrating VR into your classroom can only serve to help your students.
It’s proven that VR learning offers a variety of benefits such as:
- An immersive learning experience
- Exposure to diversity and cultures all over the world
- Better learning for students and adults alike
Plus, the most important factor of all: VR learning is consistently engaging and fun for students of all ages. What more could an educator ask for?
Kai XR also specifically makes sure that our VR field trips are accessible and easy to use for both educators and students. Plus, we have lots of exciting new features coming up soon, including a new experience where students can create and explore their own VR worlds.
If you’re ready to take the next step for your students by giving them all of the benefits of VR learning, get started with Kai XR today.
Featured Photo by Norma Mortenson