student toys VR

VR is great, but here’s why hands-on learning can’t disappear

Physically engaging with tangible toys is the best way to take a lesson that is taught on a computer screen and apply it to everyday skills.

With 80 percent of teachers reporting that they support the use of technology in the classroom, it is important to integrate tools that best fit with a child’s learning abilities, as well as school curriculum. Just this spring, a tech trend spun through the nation and it seemed as though almost every elementary school child was holding a fidget spinner. It was reported that the momentum of these small, ball-bearing devices provide a pleasing sensory experience, and therefore help hold the attention of those with ADHD or Autism.

This trend sparked a national conversation around keeping children focused in the classroom. While some may argue that the spinner is not classroom-ready and may serve as more of a distraction than an aid, tangible toys and gadgets are undeniably the best way to engage with children and it is important that we utilize tools that effectively teach math, science and the arts.

With the help of technological tools and toys, children can now engage with worlds that they could have only experienced before in their dreams. However, we must find a way to teach children to utilize these tools to interact with the world around us, not just the digital world.

Reality vs. Virtual Reality

AR and VR have enabled teachers to augment the scene of the classroom to not just tell, but also show lessons of the past and lessons of the future. But while our children are exposed to the many benefits of augmented and virtual reality, it is important that we avoid at all costs the distortion of reality.

Teachers are all too often pressed with the burning question “but when will I use this in real life?” and it is imperative that we make sure the lessons that we teach our children in an AR and VR space is actually applicable to their everyday lives.

Physically engaging with tangible toys is the best way to take a lesson that is taught on a computer screen and apply it to everyday skills. Pairing augmented or virtual reality with physical products gives children the ability to learn through virtual technologies and simultaneously interact with digital tools. It is proven that the most powerful learning happens when the integration of body and mind are engaged at the same time.

(Next page: Examples of VR pairing with physical tools; customizing for individuals)

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