Young people are the experts of tomorrow. This raises many questions about the education for and of the future. Innovative technologies create completely new opportunities in the learning process. Therefore, the goal of the Digital Education Day (DED) 2019 was to help students gain media literacy – and how to utilise media for a more effective learning process.
One school pioneering the use of innovative media in the effort to improve media literacy of students is Erich-Gutenberg-Berufskolleg in the German town of Cologne. It focuses in future orientated learning applications Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) Learning.
Improving education with VR-Learning
With the help of virtual reality, students can visit distant places like the sun, explore past eras like the Roman Empire or learn about the human heart or volcanoes in a completely new way.
They travel back in time during history lessons to follow in the footsteps of historical personalities, suddenly seeing yourself face-to-face with long-extinct dinosaurs in biology lessons or looking into the seething crater of a volcano in geography lessons: Virtual Reality Learning allows teachers to take their students to unknown worlds and places they have never seen before without leaving the classroom. Teachers use VR equipment to guide their students on expeditions that can take them as far as Greenland or to the deep sea.
VR-Learning – lessons in reality
Other applications for VR-learnings are plentiful. The headsets can not only simulate virtual realitys for recreation, but for immerse lessons. Ambulance teams can experience what if will be like for them to arrive at the place of an accident. The rescuers can learn to coordinate large-scale operations. The advantage of the program is obvious: What otherwise would require hundreds of extras, avatars simulate much more cost-effectively – and drastically.
A model for the virtual spaces is again a project of the researchers from Fraunhofer IGD. They had already simulated the cathedral of Siena in three dimensions in 1999. Since then, 3-D avatars have been guiding historians or architects through the magnificent Gothic building. In the future, the virtual walks and journeys should become even more realistic. The US company Virtuix, for example, is developing treadmills with which users can move around in virtual space in a realistic way.
The scientists themselves also make use of the possibilities of immersion. Tech companies now can, for example, develop programmes that support chemists in their work with the help of VR headsets. They can use the glasses to move through molecular structures and view them spatially. “The all-round view in this structure, which is otherwise only displayed in two dimensions, allows researchers to gain completely new insights,” says expert Slusallek of Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz (German Center for Research in Artifical Intelligence, DFKI). “The scientists can thus better recognize cause-and-effect relationships.”
Medicine is also increasingly relying on virtual realities. Technology helps doctors to plan operations or medical technicians to build prostheses. It makes it clear how body tissue and artificial limbs get along. This helps to test new materials.