Education is one of the most important factors in the advancement of the growth and evolution of the human race and the world at large.
With how essential education is, schools and other institutions in the education sector are constantly seeking out new ways that we can learn with the introduction of different learning tools and methods.
These researches have seen the transition of learning in the classroom between traditional teaching materials and virtual learning software such as Google Classroom and Udemy.
And the latest of these learning tools is virtual reality, a technology that uses computer simulations to create a three-dimensional artificial environment that can be used as an immersive learning tool for students.
So as the proprietor/proprietress, head teacher or IT head of a school in Nigeria, for instance, you might be wondering, “How can we incorporate VR into how you teach students and use this technological innovation to give your students access to an immersive learning experience?”
And you’re lucky, as even if you’re new to the concept of VR technology, setting up a VR lab for your school is not as difficult as, say, ten years ago, as long as you consider all the necessary variables so you can come up with the perfect VR environment for your students.
Here are eight steps to building the perfect virtual reality (VR) lab for your school.
1. Consider the Number of Users or Students
Number of students who will be accessing the lab is important when building a VR lab. You need to know the number of students, classes, and teachers that will be using your VR lab so that you don’t have a waiting line of people who want to use the lab or overspend on equipment such as VR headsets.
Knowing the number of users helps you budget for things like the number of VR headsets you need for the lab.
2. Research on the Best VR Headsets and Displays for Education
While VR headsets perform the same primary functions, each brand has some specific features that give it an edge over other brands of VR headsets.
VR headsets and displays happen to be the most important equipment in your VR lab. Therefore, when you’re buying VR headsets or glasses, you need to research the best VR displays for immersive learning and education so you don’t end up buying a VR display that is designed for gamers.
3. Define the Uses of the VR Lab
Don’t get us wrong: building a VR lab for your school is a step in the right direction. In fact, we all know how much the immersive learning experience VR has to offer can influence the education sector.
However, building a VR lab takes a lot of time, money, and energy, which is why you should consider the purpose of having a VR lab in your school.
Ask yourself: What is the vision we have for this VR lab? How do I plan on incorporating VR into the everyday learning methods we already use for our students?
You don’t want to build a VR lab just so you can have another facility to entice parents to register their children with your school.
4. Prepare the Physical Space Necessary for Your VR Lab
There have been incidents of people colliding with objects in their room, ramming their heads against the wall, and tripping over objects—all while playing games with a VR headset.
These incidents are due to the fact that virtual reality immerses you in a completely virtual environment, which can make you lose sight of your real-life environment. Therefore, you need to have enough space to move freely while using VR tools or employ a guide who can monitor students while they’re using a VR headset.
The perfect VR lab has enough space for users to move around freely without any form of obstruction, so you should consider the physical space you want to use to aid movements while your students use VR headsets or other displays.
5. Consider Whether You need VR treadmills
VR treadmills help solve the problems associated with movements in VR. So if you’ve considered the physical space and discovered that you don’t have enough, then a VR treadmill is the ultimate solution.
With a VR treadmill, students can run, jump, crawl, and cover as much distance as needed on VR equipment that’s only a few meters long. However, note that VR treadmills are very expensive, and one might cost you up to $2000 or ₦1.2m.
6. Get the Funding Needed to Build a VR Lab
Sorry that this is coming late. Building a VR lab is going to cost you a lot of money (I kid you not), therefore, you need to prepare your budget and see if you can afford the equipment needed for a VR lab.
To give you an idea of how expensive building a VR lab is, the Meta Quest 2 (one of the cheapest headsets on the market); will cost you around$400 or ₦240,000, so you should make sure to plan the financial aspects of setting up a VR lab very well before you launch the project.
7. Hire an Expert
You need the services of someone or a firm who has experience with the use of VR equipment and knows the necessary equipment you need to setup your lab.
8. VR Contents or Experiences
VR environments in the metaverse contain realistic images, videos, and texts, so if you want to launch your VR lab, it’s important to hire developers who can help create VR applications that will be used for your interaction with VR.
You also need content creators who can help you create amazing video scripts, instructional manuals, and images for your experiments, practicals, and other immersive learning experiences in your VR lab.
Here are some tools that are required in a VR lab:
Visual displays such as 3D projectors or VR headsets: A 3D projector allows you to teach a large group of students at once, with each student having access to the immersive learning experience by just wearing VR glasses. VR headsets, on the other hand, can only be used by one individual.
Motion sensors that can track eye movement and the movement of users in your lab: You might need to track the movement of students during an experiment or monitor a particular individual who’s showing the whole class how to do something in VR.
Backpack PCs for 3D rendering.
Projectors or huge displays for watching live experiments
Sound equipment and speakers
You can talk to experts at a VR company like Insightful3D Studio, based out of Lagos, Nigeria who can advise you on how to setup your lab and even help you create a completely virtual lab for your school.