Dubai: Widespread adoption of immersive technologies such as VR could become a reality within the next five years, as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates digital transformation in schools and universities around the world.
Educators must begin to invest strategically in immersive technologies sooner rather than later with mass adoption edging closer, according to experts speaking on Dubai Internet City’s Fireside Chat: ‘Transforming Education with VR’.
As the largest hub for talent and technology in the Middle East, Dubai Internet City has enabled the public and private sector to leverage emerging technologies for two decades. Its ecosystem of more than 1,500 companies and 25,000 people remain at the heart of the region’s digital transformation.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, it has rolled out a regular webinar series to provide a platform to share knowledge and expertise with the community.
A multi-award-winning innovator, Steve Bradbury, Director of Digital Inception Consulting, whose work stands at the intersection of VR and Education, tipped the technology to become mainstream by 2025. He also claimed the power of immersive technology will give rise to a new generation of “rockstar teachers” who will attract students from all around the world.
“One day your children could be doing classes with a Nobel Prize winner who lives on the other side of the world, using virtual spaces as the medium,” he said. “In the morning your child will be doing science with one of the world’s foremost physicists before a class with a Nobel laureate for literature in the afternoon. This will create a brand of rockstar teachers and the demand for the best of the best will rise because a shift toward VR will see geographical borders in education dissipate.”
The key benefits of VR in education include the ability to transport students to historical or cultural events where they can learn from the events firsthand. It also provides contextualised learning opportunities, multisensory experiences and allows students to bend the laws of physics by interacting with virtual surroundings in unique ways.
Research from academic institutions such as the University of Warwick and Beijing Normal University has also shown that studying in VR environments has helped to improve concentration, knowledge retention and academic results. This has increased speculation that VR is set for a growth trajectory in education among other sectors such as real estate and healthcare.
David Bozetarnik, Foundations Lecturer at Sharjah Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology, also took part in the webinar. He stressed the importance of helping students quickly understand what VR technology is so the industry can take the next step and start teaching in a virtual setting.
“People are looking seriously at integrating VR in education and I have high hopes for where we will go in the future,” he said. “Widespread adoption is going to take time and will require some patience, but we have to treat the technology like a garden and by that I mean: water it and it will grow.”
Bozetarnik and Bambury were joined on Dubai Internet City’s webinar by moderator Daniel Khayat, Head of Product and Vivepoint at HTC.
Dubai Internet City is the largest hub for talent and technology in the Middle East. It is home to more than 1,500 companies from Fortune 500 firms to startups and SMEs employing more than 25,000 people.