A student wears a virtual reality headset for learning, showing how VR is positioned for the classroom.

Arkansas turns to VR for new education program

A partnership puts VR in the hands of students, as research shows the innovative technology has lots of promise for learning

TeachAids, which developed CrashCourse and its new VR component, selected Arkansas as the first state to receive the program. The program will be distributed for free through the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) initiative at the public schools.

Arkansas is among national leaders in the computer science education movement. Because of a 2017 partnership between the Arkansas Computer Science Initiative and Facebook/TechStart, most Arkansas high schools received free Oculus Rift virtual reality systems that can be used to experience the CrashCourse program.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with leadership across the state of Arkansas,” says Dr. Piya Sorcar, founder and CEO of TeachAids. “We greatly value the emphasis that Governor Hutchinson has placed on furthering the safety and well-being of sports participants.”

The announcement is the latest to emphasize VR’s place in education.

VR is exciting and engaging for students, but for the most part, schools have struggled to find ways to incorporate it into the curriculum. Now, new research reveals one possible impetus for more classroom inclusion.

Last year, University of Maryland researchers conducted an in-depth analysis on whether people learn better through virtual and immersive environments versus more traditional platforms such as a two-dimensional desktop computer or handheld tablet.

The researchers found that people remember information better if it is presented to them in a virtual environment. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Virtual Reality.

The findings offer encouraging news for educators who want to explore how VR fits into learning. Although recent survey data shows few teachers are using VR in classrooms, 43 percent of district leaders in small districts want it in their schools, and 20 percent of district leaders say VR is a priority this year.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione

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