Virtual Reality (VR) is not a new concept in this world, but here in Zimbabwe, it is yet to gain traction and Veative Labs, a Singapore based company is working with eLearning Solutions in Zimbabwe to bring VR Learn Devices into the classrooms to bring life into the learning process. A question that arises from this is ‘Zimbabwe ready for VR technology in school?’
Like technology, education has been going through a lot of changes over the years to ensure that it meets the requirements of today’s world and beyond, hence this marriage of technology and education sounds perfect, but still it requires a lot of caution to be taken. A lot of factors have been considered in the creation of VR learning devices as noted by Veative CEO Mr. Ankur Aggarwal.
“We have thought about a lot of factors like costs. But the need to impact people is the driver because there are a lot of people who don’t have laboratories, they don’t know anything about experiments, and through this technology, however unconventional it looks, they can have the same feeling and the same impact as those using the actual things.” Mr Aggarwal said.
Given the state of affairs in Zimbabwe, some may feel that we haven’t reached a point where we can consider VR technology in our classrooms. There are a couple of factors that we have to look at before we can make that assessment and these are:
The first thing people think of when it comes to the adoption of new technology is the costs associated with it as it has a lot of implications on who can have access to it, in what quantities and many other factors related to costs.
Right now, Zimbabwe is facing some foreign currency shortages, but still needs new technology is it is to advance in education, as noted by eLearning Solutions CEO Itai Masimirembwa.
“We want this to go for around $200, which is less than the amount you can spend on a computer or a tablet here in Zimbabwe. We are aware of the foreign currency shortages and the many challenges that people are facing hence the need to make this device as affordable as possible.” said Mr Masimirembwa.
The Veative VR Learn Device Toolkit
While the concept of engaging Virtual Reality in the education system is great, there is need to look at the practicality of such a move as it has a lot of reception implications attached to it Mr Masimirembwa spoke of the need to align technology to education and not just throw technology into the educational mix if it doesn’t fit.
“Technology must be in line with the development agenda. Elearning is led by the teacher and we are trying to bring the same standards that the best ranked countries in the world like Finland and Sweden according to the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) to Zimbabwe. This is what they are using, and that’s why we have chosen to work with Veative, they are providing educational technology to those countries.” Mr Masimirembwa added.
Difference In Schools
There are schools that already have acquired and are using some cutting age technology in their studies, like Tynwald Primary School, which to date is the first and only school in Zimbabwe to have a 3D printer courtesy of their partnership with Level Up Village. But its not just that, each and every one of their students has a laptop or tablet to aid in their studies.
For a school like that, it is easier for them to adopt this new technology while some schools yet to even acquire a single computer will find the leap into this technology too daunting.
But the differences aren’t just in technology availability, but also in electricity as there are some schools yet to be connected to the ZESA power grid. To combat some of the challenges, the device was designed so that it can also work on solar, requiring to be charged for about 6 hours.
Like most novel things, VR won’t simply be taken in, hence the need for a soft introduction, starting with schools that can pay for the technology and cascading down until it is a national standard. I fear that by the time Zimbabwe would have fully adopted VR in education, some more advanced technology would have been introduced.
Having put on the VR glasses and experienced Virtual Reality, I can attest to the possibility of its usefulness in the education of Zimbabweans should it be adopted fully. But do you think the adoption of VR in Zimbabwe will be a good thing or it will ruin our education?