Immersive Learning: Will Robots Replace Teachers?

Every year the issue of motivating schoolchildren and students to study is raised more and more often. Children boycott homework, and students are expelled or do not enter universities. But it is not only young people who face the problem of learning. Adults also need to get additional education or retraining or do self-education.

It turns out that the problem is observed in all. Meanwhile, teachers influence motivation by no more than 30%, and the material becomes outdated with unimaginable speed or inapplicable in life. Add remote learning to this, and you get a complete lack of desire to stay in the educational process and, as a consequence, lower performance results.

This problem is recognized by all subjects of the educational process (schoolchildren, students, parents, teachers, employers) and the leadership of the countries. Technology companies have also taken up this situation, offering universal products and unique environments for each case. Thus, to replace the old modes, introducing a method at the intersection of reality and the virtual world was proposed, which met all the modern challenges – immersive learning.

In this article, paper writing services will consider the use of immersive technologies in education, understand the prospects and advantages, and look for the disadvantages and the answer to the main question – will the new technologies displace teachers from schools?

Essence and Brief History of the Method

Immersive learning is a method that uses an artificial or simulated environment through which students can fully immerse themselves in the learning process. Nowadays, it is digital or virtual environments that are meant.

It is also worth understanding the concept of “immersiveness. In fact, it is “immersion in the action.” – property of the environment to involve the subject in the accepted system of relations. The technical environment features the notion of the “presence effect” – a complex of sensations of a person who is in an artificially created three-dimensional world.

It may seem that immersiveness is a new trend that emerged with the development of digital technology. But literature, painting, and theater have been striving for immersive perception since their inception. By its very nature, art needs to immerse its viewer and reader in the environment created by the author or, conversely, recreate the world around them.

Now immersiveness is gaining popularity in the arts in the form of performances and live theater (examples to follow). The return to this trend is due, on the one hand, to the fact that modern people don’t like being spectators. Everyone wants to be part of the process and make decisions, which is lacking in the VUCA world. On the other hand, the 21st-century man is characterized by the Google effect. In such a flow of information noise, which now surrounds us, it is pretty difficult to stop at one thought for a long time.

Accordingly, to win the struggle for our attention, it is necessary to give him more sensory experience and a little power over the situation. Interestingly, there has been Confucian wisdom for many decades: “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand,” but it is one that perfectly captures the essence of immersive learning.

Education now emphasizes the need for interactive methods in the learning process, built on intersubjective interaction. It is proved that they help include learners’ attention and create an “anchor” for knowledge assimilation. But one thing is point interaction, and another thing is to keep students’ attention throughout the whole class with the development of necessary skills.

The question remained open until recently. With the development of technical capabilities and a decrease in the price of gadgets, interactivity began to be applied by creating a virtual environment and using augmented reality, among other things.

More than five years ago, the first experiments were conducted to introduce immersive tools into the learning process of students and schoolchildren, from simple variants of interaction to total immersion. We can say that now the second generation of immersive learning is coming.

Experiments have revealed that immersive technologies have transformed the teacher’s role, emphasizing the translation of knowledge and the design of virtual environments and various immersion scenarios. Does this mean that the teacher must now receive additional IT education? And will educational content be able to compete with the many video games that are also in the immersive niche?

It’s too early to conclude. But learning about the tools that are used in immersive learning is now possible.

Technologies of immersive learning

Suppose you compare the regular presence of a person at an online conference and their immersion in an immersive environment from a physiological point of view. In that case, you can see a clear difference. It is not natural for a person to learn the world by moving a mouse or two thumbs while sitting in a chair all day long. In an immersive environment, human-machine interaction becomes familiar to human nature: the movement of hands and feet and the head’s rotation to interact with the virtual environment.

We are now talking about the most “live” immersive technology called “Virtual reality” (VR) – artificially created fictional space using special tools (for the average user – glasses or helmet). The best example to describe virtual reality is simulations of skiing, racing, tennis tournaments, etc.

In addition to this option, there are also other technologies:

  • “Augmented Reality” (AR) where is supposed to use additional settings and options in the space of the natural world, which are superimposed on the real world in layers, adjusting and complicating it. A PC or smartphone can be used to immerse yourself in AR. The most famous example of this technology is the game Pokemon Go.
  • “Mixed Reality (MR) is an analog of augmented reality, which combines the capabilities of a VR helmet and an external video camera and superimposes other textures on the actual picture for objects. It is possible with special filters on smartphones or in glasses/helmets. An example is the completion of a building facade that does not exist in reality on the screen when a smartphone camera is pointed at it.
  • “3D immersive learning” (3D) – three-dimensional visualization and simulation of the environment, immersing the user in a specially created world and opening up a wide range of possibilities for interaction with the environment. An example is the meta-universe. This technology has the broadest potential, including in the educational environment, but it has not yet had successful implementation examples.

There are many concepts of meta words at the moment, but the most famous one belongs to venture capitalist Matthew Ball. He cites the following characteristics of his world, which, among other things, combine the principles of the different technologies:

  • The meta-universe always exists: it cannot be paused, erased, or completed;
  • all events within the metaclass universe occur in real-time, and actions do not depend on external factors;
  • there is no restriction on the number of those who inhabit the meta-universe;
  • The meta-universe has its economy: people receive “money” for their “work” done, own and dispose of “property”;
  • In the meta-universe, one can use elements of the natural world: for example, one can work on one’s laptop in virtual space;
  • data and digital assets from different Internet platforms are combined;
  • The meta-universe is filled with “content and experiences” created by its users, both individuals and organizations.

Below are a few more realizations of immersive technologies, including learning.

Options for using the method

Currently, specialists are actively experimenting with the use of immersive learning tools, some of them have not yet passed the test of time, and some have already become classics. We have chosen several different forms of implementation of immersiveness in education and selected examples for them so that you can form a holistic view of the method:

  • An immersive educational exhibition (“Victory Train,” the “UnionMultPark” site, etc.)
  • Online events: graduation parties, lectures, concerts have already been implemented. Ready-made sandbox games like Minecraft are used, or new similar spaces are created.
  • Virtual mapping of reality. Some new employees of global companies have never been in their office because they work remotely, but to maintain team spirit, to get acquainted with the values and principles of the team, they are given virtual tours (for example, tour of the school, the museum, the first Google office).
  • Business games to develop and practice skills. Large companies are increasingly resorting to immersive training for new employees (example of a service provider – Dailo), and teachers receive lessons transformed into virtual cases (Russian companies – Modum Lab, “Digital Space”).
  • Augmented reality of existing objects (Civilisations AR app (BBC) works with BBC science and art projects. Artifact is a Russian app that adds sound to works of art. Art and Artivive are applications that work with museums, EyeJack brings posters to life, and Separate Reality immerses the user inside a painting).
  • Virtual worlds combine many educational tools and interaction possibilities (e.g., Second Life, ActiveWorlds).

It is incredible that now we have listed existing examples and not fantasies spotted in books or movies. It was simply impossible to imagine such a thing not long ago, but now the virtual and real worlds have become intertwined. And now, any “user” ceases to be a “user”. He gets inside the environment and, among other things, becomes its creator. Just like in real life, isn’t it? Only with fewer consequences.

Advantages of the method

Already at this stage in the development of immersive technology, many people are beginning to worry about the necessity and safety of its use. Behind these worries are fears of change, concerns about many professions, the severe impact on “immature children’s minds,” and much more. But let’s look at the positive and negative aspects of immersive technology to formulate our conclusions on this issue:

  • They are expanding the picture of the world available to man. Virtual reality allows you to see places that a person can not get to on their own with your own eyes. Or places that do not exist or where no one has set foot. It allows us to develop the future professional’s outlook.
  • Enriching students with complex sensory, and cognitive experiences, is necessary for complete mastery of abstract concepts. Most of the material studied is challenging to imagine applicable in real life. Still, with the help of immersive technology tools, it is possible to see and experience it.
  • Realistic simulation of natural scenes. Immersive technologies allow taking part in extreme situations and practicing the necessary skills without risk and with multiple repetitions. Notably, the multidimensionality of the scenarios allows complete control and changes the content of the events. Educational material can also be integrated into the scenes, which will be remembered unobtrusively as the procedure is repeated.
  • Hands-on training with immersive technology allows you to learn exceptional skills and get Soft Skills necessary in life for anyone. The remote form of work primarily deprives specialists of contact with society, which reduces the potential for developing paraprofessional competencies.
  • A more straightforward and seemingly entertaining, but at the same time, research content. Compared to regular learning activities, this format is more appealing to learners. It engages them and keeps their attention, which makes learning more productive.
  • Maximum engagement and focus. In a virtual environment, a person will not be able to be distracted by external stimuli. And game problem situations involve the process of solving the problem. It allows complete focus on the material.
  • Individual approach to learning. Immersive learning contributes to the personalization of education and allows students to learn at their own pace at a suitable level. It’s also convenient that the teacher can track each student’s route.
  • You are introducing your personality. Many platforms allow you to customize or create your digital avatar, creating more connections to reality and making learners feel more confident.
  • They are removing social barriers. Immersive platforms allow for different interactions between all actors, fostering community building. Teamwork is fundamental to learning and achievement.

It is worth keeping in mind that not all of the listed benefits apply to all types of immersive technologies. Most apply to more universal and broader options, such as VR or 3D. However, these advantages are also simultaneously the principles of immersive learning, without which the method as an educational methodology will not exist.

Disadvantages of the method

Despite a fair amount of criticism of virtual technology, much of it boils down to the inaccessibility of the equipment and the impossibility of operating it without a specialist. This criticism is logical, but we have already noted the reduction in the price of the necessary gadgets and the possibility of working through a smartphone.

Other disadvantages are as follows:

  • Working in an immersive space leads to prolonged PC and smartphone use, which affects one’s health. Especially this criticism applies to tools without kinetic control.
  • A related and often used argument against the immersive method is the words expressed by the following quote: “Virtuality creates bridges between people from different continents, but builds walls between people who are in the same room.” There is some truth in this, as there are known cases of complete withdrawal of people into virtual life without adequate communication with the outside world.
  • The effectiveness of immersive learning depends on the proper gamification of the process and the correct storytelling application. It, on the one hand, complicates the process of creating the environment and, on the other hand, can distract learners from the primary goal. In other words, there is a high probability that students will “play” in new worlds. And the more interesting the world, the higher this risk.

Conclusion 

We can say that the number of disadvantages is comparable with the number of advantages, which opens up vast opportunities for refinement and development of the method. Whether to use immersive technology now is up to everyone to decide. But we can assume that the new reality will still replace teachers. We are conveying information, not as people, but as subjects of the process.

It seems that the teachers of the new era will convey experiences of knowing the world and understanding themselves, moderating the processes of movement of students through virtual worlds. It can be compared to the role of the Teacher in front of students traveling through the Astral.

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