Schools face several challenges daily. For one, teens can be very rowdy in class. Even in traditional learning environments, teachers and educators make it a point to stress the importance of house rules and regulations within the classroom or on the school premises. However, when physical cues and boundaries are non-existent, how important does etiquette become?
An unconventional solution to this may be virtual reality. Students may get too excited when using virtual reality in class, and this excitement can help fuel the correct behaviour. Therefore, teachers must make sure that their classroom remains conducive for learning – both in the physical world and within the virtual environment.
Inside the Classroom
The use of virtual reality, or any type of immersive digital technology, still rely on the real world to work. As such, virtual reality users are still prone to physical nuisances. This makes it important to get rid of distractions even before they become distracting.
Eliminate noise and other physical disturbances
As you know may know, virtual reality requires its users to immerse themselves using a headset which will make it impossible to see their surroundings. Therefore, any significant disturbance may compel users to pause and take a peek when disturbed. As noise continues to be an increasing concern for learning environments, minimising disturbances is just as vital when using virtual reality for learning.
It might be best to put warning signs on the doors of your VR laboratories reminding passers-by to stay quiet and discourage any form of disturbance. If your school has a PA system, it would be a good idea to equip your VR lab as a means to lower its volume, save for emergency announcements and any vital alarms. You could also set a separate time for students to discuss and talk among themselves in order to help prevent them from interrupting one another from their VR experience.
Encourage focus and presence of mind
Focus is such an important aspect of learning. In fact, one of the strongest studies about student focus suggests how vital a person’s focus can be. This study tested 1,000 students in New Zealand born between 1972 and 1973 for 8 straight years, looking at each child’s ability to stay focused and fend off distractions. Once the subjects turned 32, the study was able to correlate each person’s ability to focus as an indicative factor in attaining success.
Students must learn how to focus early on. There are a number of activities that can help kids practice their concentration in class. If you feel like your students are not focused enough, it might be a good idea to do some exercises that are best suited for their age.
Virtual reality, to become an effective learning medium, capitalizes on its experiential nature. Without a deep level of focus, and presence of mind, students could miss out on details that could be vital in their VR learning experience.
Within Virtual Reality
Aside from students’ interaction in the real world, VR users will also be crossing paths with users within virtual reality. This change in environment also calls for a different set of rules to maintain order that’s crucial in learning. While not all VR software and platforms showcase virtual interaction, observing virtual reality etiquette will be relevant when students are using programs that do.
Be aware of communication cues
While the numbers vary on how much effect non-verbal cues have in communication, most experts say that about half of communication is done through body language. Since VR, as with any other non-personal form of communication, does not provide a way for all non-verbal cues to be transmitted, the importance of clear communication is paramount.
Stress the importance of accurate communication among your students when immersed in VR. Students who are familiar with online course boards and forums know the importance of accuracy when communicating in the digital space. Students should be as accurate as possible, leaving little to no room for unnecessary narratives.
Using the right tone when composing messages must also be considered. Should there be a way to talk via voice, using the right intonation will be crucial in communicating ideas clearly. While it’s okay to be funny, sarcasm and banter may get lost in translation, especially among strangers or users that the students may meet in VR for the first time.
Promote respect and open-mindedness
In your students’ journey through virtual reality, they may become exposed to different cultures. Without prior knowledge about certain ways of life, some students may get repulsed or even get offended and lead other students to pick on each other. See to it that you will be able to conduct a discussion with respect and open-mindedness in class after their VR experience, which will help you address any questions they may have and clarify areas that were unclear or confusing for them.
By staying conscious of the kind of environment students are interacting in, promoting the right set of etiquette can guide students in learning through VR effectively and make it a vital teaching tool for your students.