Though the technology is still in its infancy, I’m excited about the potential of Virtual and Augmented Reality in the classroom. Headsets are steadily becoming more available and their classroom applications are limited only by imagination, teacher enthusiasm, skills and software development. The original context is the classroom and students eyes. It literally affords teachers/edu-programmers the ability to create/alter the world and take student’s minds out of the classroom and into the content. This technology will afford the ability to visually augment the classroom (eventually perhaps daily) with material relevant to the lesson. Imagine a Greek history lesson with an actual 3D hoplite or even a formation that students can examine instead of simply looking at flat pictures and diagrams. I believe it would dramatically increase students enthusiasm for lessons and helps learners who are perhaps more visual learners. It is limited in that the students are passive and hopefully software develops to the point where students can create/influence their altered-classroom environments. It also affords the ability to VR create simulations which could be applied to safety (CPR classes), scientific experiments too dangerous/expensive for the school lab or language learning activities to name a few. You could also literally put students in workplaces, other cultures and other worlds giving them relevant skills and experience for the globalised, digital world they will work and live in.
Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis—matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educational Media International, 45(1) 3–15. doi: 10.1080/09523980701847115
Butler, M., Morgan, M., & Power, M. (2007). Evaluating ICT in education: A comparison of the affordances of the iPod, DS and Wii. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/morgan.pdf