Twenty-three percent of schools in a recent survey said they have tested virtual reality or tried it in classrooms.

More than half of those surveyed said they are actively investigating virtual reality for classroom use. Ten percent said they are planning to use it over the next year or two.

Those were the results of a recent survey from Extreme Networks that gauges schools’ progress in implementing and planning for virtual reality in classrooms. It also touches on some of the obstacles associated with its use.

Of the schools that have tried the technology, 52 percent have tried it in science instruction, 20 percent in engineering, and 29 percent in history.

Google seems to be the most popular brand among surveyed schools, with 74 percent using Google, 17 percent using Oculous, and 14 percent using Samsung.

School respondents were somewhat evenly divided on whether or not their IT infrastructures can support virtual reality technology. Thirty-two percent said they are very sure it can, 31 percent said they’re somewhat sure it can, and 30 percent are not sure if it can. Six percent said they are somewhat sure their infrastructure cannot support virtual reality, and 1 percent are very sure it cannot support it.

Next page: How virtual reality can be used in the classroom

Survey respondents said the benefits of using virtual reality in education include:

  • Getting students excited to learn (68 percent)
  • Encouraging creativity (39 percent)
  • Making difficult concepts easier (32 percent)
  • Lowering costs for field trips (23 percent)
  • Enabling students to attend school from anywhere (15 percent)
  • Eliminating distractions (5 percent)

Major drawbacks include:

  • Not enough content available yet (47 percent)
  • Expensive or difficult to implement (43 percent)
  • Too hard to manage during class (21 percent)
  • Might be a distraction (22 percent)
  • May cause headaches or brain damage (17 percent)
  • Too much like a game (16 percent)
  • Isolates students (8 percent)

Virtual reality content sources include Google, YouTube, Samsung, OER, Nearpod, and Oculus.

Since the survey, a number of virtual reality advances have emerged, as outlined by Bob Nilsson in an Extreme Networks blog post:

  • Google has eliminated restrictions on Expeditions, their VR field trips program. Google Expeditions was cited in the survey as one of the most popular sources of VR content, but with the lament that it was a restricted program. As of the end of June, those restricts have been lifted.
  • Intel recently announced Project Alloy; yet another major vendor throwing their weight behind virtual reality. According to their web announcement: “Project Alloy is an all-in-one virtual reality solution leveraging Intel RealSense technology. Project Alloy will be offered as an open platform in 2017.”
  • Samsung’s Gear VR has gotten more comfortable. Already one of the most popular and affordable VR headsets, Gear VR now weighs less and is better fitting.
  • Virtual Reality sessions were popular at ISTE 2016. The education technology conference featured several sessions, panels, and vendor displays about VR in the classroom. Particularly impressive were displays by zSpace, Google, and Lifeliqe on the expo floor.
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura