Mandya PES Engineering College students show how Virtual Reality can transform the way we learn and teach
Mysuru: We all have been hearing a lot over the past few years about how Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to transform the way we learn and teach. From providing in-depth knowledge and helping us understand complex subjects to facilitating language immersion and virtual trips, Virtual Reality technology is an amazing tool for learning and teaching.
Recent research in the area of multimedia has reconfirmed the importance and effectiveness of visual features in teaching and learning materials. It has been demonstrated that multimedia can provide an effective teaching and learning environment. Visual aspects and interaction with a multimedia system are the most preferred features, say students who were part of the research.
Virtual Reality creates new resources to teach and learn and students tend to absorb information much better if they enter a 3-D environment that makes everything more fun, exciting and enjoyable. While some of the major players in education and technology sectors are already pursuing applications for the classroom in the Western world, in India, Virtual Reality is far from being real inside classrooms.
Immersive and interactive experience
However, recognising the necessity and advantage of Virtual Reality in classroom teaching and learning, a group of Computer Science and Engineering students from PES College of Engineering in Mandya have come up with a project ‘Virtual Classroom system using Augmented Reality’ that provides more immersive and interactive experience to the learner. The team has used technologies of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
While Virtual Reality is the creation of a simulated environment that replaces the present environment, Augmented Reality is the creation of a virtual object in the present real-world environment which is also interactive.
Interact with educational content
The team has developed a virtual classroom system that can be used to provide high-quality education even in remotest areas. “Virtual classroom is an environment where a student can access and interact with educational content which are not physically present in his or her classroom, says S. Kaushik Arakalgud from PES Engineering College. Other members of the team are Y.R. Vasuki Varuna, H.N. Shreyas and Sinchana M Hadli. Their guide was D. Bhavya, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
The system consists of two modules: Firstly, a Virtual Reality module that uses two cameras to capture audio-visual content from subject experts and stream it to smart phones through a server. Secondly, an Augmented Reality module that helps improve learning experience by providing students with an interactable learning environment.
Viewing content through smart phone
“A Virtual Reality gear which can hold a smart phone is used to view the generated content by the student. An app has been developed by the team for android users providing them with easy user interface,” Kaushik explains.
“Initially we conducted surveys by visiting multiple schools and interacted with teachers and students. We handed them questionnaires to better understand their view on the type of education they need and what technology can fit in to make their learning more interesting and effective,” he says.
In the survey, the team found that most of the students were curious and had higher intelligent quotient than any student of their age. Most students of secondary schools were aware of e-learning and comfortable in using mobile phones. The survey revealed that many schools lacked facilities for computers and had poor infrastructure. “Our visits to these schools prompted us to orient our project in a way that could help the children living in rural areas,” Kaushik reveals.
Travel in time and space
With Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, students can witness what happened in history in the first person, go deep into the human body and experience new learning experiences from a different point of view. They will see everything much better than through explanations and images. Students will be able to travel in time and space and they can go anywhere, return to the past or unveil the mysteries of the future.
The team has received the top place in college-level project exhibition sponsored by Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP). The project was appreciated by the expert panel from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bengaluru and it was recommended for TEQIP grants.
The project was adjudged best session paper in a national conference held at NIE, Mysuru and the team has won accolades at the State-level exhibition held at Sri Siddhartha Institute of Technology, Tumakuru.