Artificial reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies can enhance classroom experiences and expand opportunities at all levels of learning, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

To ensure the benefits of AR/VT technologies are fully realized in the education sector, ITIF says the Federal government needs to support innovation by investing in research, skill-building, content development, and equitable adoption of immersive technologies.

The report explains that AR/VR technologies offer opportunities for enhanced learning in both K-12 schools and higher education. Specifically, AR/VR’s immersive potential allows educators to not only share information in new and engaging ways, but also the ability to offer virtual experiences that can mitigate barriers from cost or distance.

For K-12, ITIF says AR/VR can provide educators with interactive and engaging tools for classroom learning, including libraries of immersive content, experiences for specific subjects or learning objectives, and tools for students with learning disabilities.

In higher ed, the report argues that AR/VR can help learners grasp abstract concepts and gain hands-on experience in low-risk virtual settings. AR/VR has the potential to impact a wide range of subjects, including STEM courses, medical simulations, arts and humanities materials, and technical education.

To help realize AR/VR’s potential, ITIF says Congress needs to direct the Department of Education to invest in programs, resources, and initiatives that will guide the development of AR/VR educational solutions and encourage further innovations in this field. The report says Congress should direct the Department of Education to help to bridge existing knowledge and content gaps by:

  • Investing in research into best practices to mitigate health and safety concerns for young children, and providing guidance on age-appropriate use;
  • Providing resources and opportunities for educators to develop the skills and knowledge needed to successfully deploy these technologies, and developing resources and guidance to integrate AR/VR technologies into digital literacy initiatives to reduce the “learning curve” for students at all levels;
  • Accelerating the development of quality, relevant, and age-appropriate immersive educational content by investing in government educational content for AR/VR and expanding AR/VR innovation in colleges and universities; and
  • Supporting initiatives to expand access to AR/VR devices and applications.

“Going forward, it will be important to ensure instructors have the necessary skills and knowledge to implement AR/VR solutions in their lesson plans and create opportunities to develop necessary content, including equipping students and educators with the skills to do so,” the report says. “Policymakers should support further innovation by facilitating content development, investing in necessary research into safety and efficacy, and supporting efforts to expand access to these technologies.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs