Hands-on learning still provides highest benefits amid rising virtual opportunities
- Despite the rise of virtual reality and other technological opportunities in education, hands-on learning experiences with tangible objects still offer the highest benefits when engaging with lessons in math, science and the arts, according to eSchool News.
- Ensuring that virtual and augmented reality lessons that distort perceptions of the real world to allow students to look into the past or experience far-away locales are applicable to everyday experiences is a particular challenge, but it can be addressed by pairing these technologies with physical objects.
- Among the examples provided is Curiscope, which uses a special t-shirt that interacts with a smartphone app to let students explore a 3D-animated anatomy.
While hands-on learning experiences are preferable for students, it's worth considering that not every school or district has the resources, or they are simply too far away, for some opportunities to be experienced firsthand. In that sense, virtual and augmented reality have opened the door for students in, say, rural Kentucky to potentially experience Smithsonian exhibits.
Additionally, the tech has made it more feasible for schools to offer simulations of things like frog dissections or machine assembly, which can help make costs more manageable in terms of materials and facilities — and, in the case of the former, more palatable to some students or parents who may take objection to the use of real animal cadavers in classroom dissections.
But schools and districts short on resources can still endeavor to make hands-on opportunities available where possible, in part by seeking partnerships with local businesses and community organizations. Through these efforts, they could finance things like class trips to local cities with such experiences available, helping also to broaden students' horizons beyond their local communities.
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