The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) will provide school districts with almost $110 billion to spend before September 2023. Of this amount, $22 billion will be used to address Covid-19’s impact on student learning, and $87 billion can be spent freely on local needs.
The ARP ESSER is the third stimulus funding for education initiated by the federal government following:
- CARES Act (ESSER I): $13 billion
- ESSER II: $54 billion
From the $110 billion of the ARP ESSER funding, 20% must be spent to address learning loss directly. The remaining 90% of the learning loss funding is left to the discretion of each school district.
However, the three stimulus funds also provided guidelines on where they can be spent. These allowable activities include:
- Providing mental health services and support
- Improving indoor air quality
- Addressing the needs of children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth.
One of the Department of Education’s recommendations is the purchase of educational technology. This includes AR and VR technology in education. This is an amazing opportunity for schools to invest in virtual reality technology to augment the classroom experience. This blog lists ways this fund can be spent on VR-assisted education.
1. VR Enhances Language Learning
One of the reasons language learners fail is the lack of exposure to and immersion in the language being learned. Traditional learning methods focus on how the language is constructed and not how it is used.
VR programs are a suitable solution to this problem. VR allows students to listen to and speak the language they are trying to learn every day. Since going to another country for weeks or months to learn the language is impossible, virtual immersion is the next best thing.
VR simulations can trick the brain into thinking the experience is real. This is what language learning apps like ImmerseMe are trying to take advantage of. ImmerseMe allows learners to choose from over 3,000 interactive scenarios across nine languages, including French, Spanish, and Japanese. Examples of scenarios that students may experience are buying a bento box in Tokyo and ordering a baguette in Paris.
2. VR Offers Virtual Environments
Experiencing virtual environments has become one of the most popular applications of VR technology in education. Apps like VictoryXR makes it possible for students to learn subjects like anatomy, astronomy, and molecular biology by immersing themselves in virtual lab environments.
With VR, students can travel virtually from Mount Everest to the moons of Saturn. In theory, any kind of experience is possible with immersive technology.
Parents and schools know school trips can be expensive, which means it’s not always open to all students. VR technology makes field trips more accessible, affordable, and interesting.
3. VR Helps in Special Education
VR technology has helped teachers educate and motivate students of all ages and abilities by making learning accessible, practical, and engaging. It can have the same effect on students with disabilities.
The Jackson School for special needs in Victoria, Australia, has been using the Oculus Rift VR headset in their classroom. Special education instructor Mathieu Marunczyn explained that VR has helped spark their student’s imagination.
Marunczyn also said that lessons with meditative virtual reality apps like those exploring the planets and stars have a calming effect on his students with autism.
4. VR Improves Skills Training
VR simulations can help students learn practical skills to prepare them for the outside world better. Students will be able to learn unfamiliar skills from realistic scenarios that may be too dangerous in real life.
The Google Daydream team once conducted an experiment that pitted two teams. One team watched video tutorials on preparing espresso shots, while the other used VR training programs.
After their training, the two teams were asked to prepare coffee following what they saw. Sure enough, the students who trained through VR made fewer mistakes and were quicker to accomplish the goal.
This experiment found that VR training could teach students better than video tutorials because they learn faster.
Extended reality technologies like VR and AR have the potential to make learning far more engaging, effective, and relevant for today’s tech-driven world. The federal government’s learning loss fund will be most useful in helping schools to adopt VR technology to raise students’ learning capabilities.
VEDX is a design and consultation firm that specializes in immersive technologies focused on education. If you or your organization is interested in setting up extended reality programs, contact us today, and our team will present you with options that will fit your situation and budget.