Published 4 hours ago
Proposed by Qualcomm Inc.
As we now have pre- and post-COVID academic data, we can see the scale of learning loss that has occurred across the world. Math and literacy test results confirm that far fewer children are reaching proficiency levels in core programs. A recent study indicates that it will take five years or more for many older children to recover from a pandemic learning loss.1
Despite the introduction of technology into more classrooms around the world, too often we see teachers adopting analog thinking when applying digital solutions.
If all we do is replace textbooks and worksheets with digital texts and portable document files (i.e. PDFs), we have not changed learning: we we just figured out how to spend more money doing the same thing.
Over the past decade, I have visited hundreds of K-12 classrooms and university lecture halls in several countries. Even among technology-rich institutions and countries, many remain trapped in a time capsule. I usually see students:
- Typing in a word processing application (keyboarding is still part of most programs);
- Type text and paste images found online into presentation slides; Or
- Read, watch, and optionally answer multiple choice questions in certain publisher-created web content.
Our responsibility is to rethink the concepts of teaching and learning, employing best practices to achieve meaningful academic results.
The History of Passive Versus Active Learning
In the 1960s, education researcher Edgar Dale released his now famous Cone of Experience.2 What he was trying to convey was that these passive methods of learning – such as learning by listening, reading or watching – produced poor results. However, he said that when the learner is more actively involved in the process – for example through discussion, simulation or teaching others – they are likely to master concepts more quickly and retain information more. a long time.
Which learning method is most effective for students?
I think back to when I was a fourth grader at Rushmore Elementary School on Long Island, New York. I think my classroom experience mirrors that of many people reading this article. What was a typical day at school like?
- The teacher would lecture us on a given subject in front of a board.
- We read in textbooks.
- And if it was a good day, we might see a roll or movie.
Now let’s move on to a technology-rich classroom before, during and after COVID-19. How has technology changed this learning?
- Teachers continue to deliver the lesson to students in front of an interactive flat screen, or students watch previously recorded lessons created by educators.
- Students read digital textbooks.
- And if the day is good, they can watch YouTube videos.
However, if we compare these teaching and learning strategies from the 1970s to today, we see that many techniques define learning as a passive experience for the student. We continue to listen, read, and observe, which are precisely the strategies that Dale identified at least 50 years ago as yielding the worst results. At the same time, we have invested in expensive technology to support these strategies with digital tools, but we continue to rely on analog learning. And when schools invest significantly in technology and see no improvement in academic outcomes, that remains the root of the problem.
Introduce active learning methods into the classroom
If we reexamine Dale’s teachings, we see that more active teaching and learning methods — Learning by doing — allows students to understand relevance, while processing knowledge in a very different and more efficient way. Fortunately, there is a technology solution that integrates digital pedagogy at its roots, paving the way for accelerated learning and better results.
Virtual reality (VR) remains an exception in schools and countries, but it has the greatest potential for students to master complex concepts faster and with greater retention.
Recent studies involving large companies have shown that students can be trained four times faster than traditional methods.3 Additionally, learners are much more confident in applying skills learned through hands-on simulations. Why does virtual reality provide much more effective learning experiences than traditional analog teaching methods?
- Rather than trying to deal with abstract concepts, students perform meaningful experiments that help them understand in a more tangible way.
- Virtual reality allows students to see the cause and effect of right and wrong answers, thereby providing a better understanding of the subject. Even when they make a mistake, they learn from it.
- Virtual reality makes learning more emotionally relevant by witnessing lessons firsthand.
How Virtual Reality Can Improve Learning Outcomes
If we can apply virtual reality to skills such as those in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, i.e. STEAM learning — imagine the possibilities for the next generation of students. VR cannot remain solely used by early adopters for a casual game or classroom activity. If we integrate them into the core curriculum, we can help more students master areas such as literacy and mathematics, areas that remain a challenge for many countries.
A recent WestEd studyconducted during the 2022-2023 school year, helped demonstrate the impact of using virtual reality in mathematics teaching.4 Students who supplemented their teaching with VR content from publisher Prisms of Reality saw an 11% improvement in their test scores compared to the control group of students.
But as we expand the definition of learning space and what can and should happen in classrooms, we open the door to limitless possibilities. Technologies that can reshape teaching and learning include many of the innovations that Qualcomm Technologies is helping to shape for future generations, including immersive virtual reality simulations, drone and robotics technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Our mantra “Engineering Human Progress” highlights our desire to help transform learning in classrooms around the world. With more than 1.6 billion students in the world today, their learning is the greatest natural resource our world will benefit from in the years to come.
1: Primary school students recover faster from learning loss due to Covid, study finds. EdSource. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from: https://edsource.org/2022/elementary-students-are-recovering-faster-from-covid-learning-loss-research-shows/675811
2: Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience: A Complete Guide. Growth engineering. Retrieved May 22, 2023 from: https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/what-is-edgar-dales-cone-of-experience/
3: What do virtual reality and the metaverse mean for training? PwC. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from: https://www.pwc.com/us/en/tech-effect/emerging-tech/virtual-reality-study.html
4: WestEd study: Virtual reality as a catalyst for mathematics learning. Prisms of reality. Retrieved July 24, 2023 from: https://www.prismsvr.com/blog/virtual-reality-as-a-catalyst-for-mathematics-learning