TEDx Karim Saad

VR Classroom – an Innovative Way to Learn May 4, 2020

Learning in VR for Everyone

Every morning, I wake up at 6 am and rush my kids to wake up and get ready for school. By 7 am we are ready to move to school and arrive 45 minutes later. The same goes for driving them back. Around 4 hours wasted every day. Students in Africa can spend around 4 hours walking to reach school every morning. Traffic jams increase during drop off and pick up due to the excessive circulation of parents and school buses. Public transport also experiences a heavy footfall at that time. Only in the US, there are more than 480,000 school buses running around. Imagine the impact on the environment using fuel, oil, tires, brakes… In China, due to lack of buses and absence of regulation, overloading of buses with children in China for school routes is commonplace. Consequently, accidents happen frequently.

We do also unintentionally expose our kids to danger at a younger age such as sexual harassment, bullying and many more. About ten percent of all reported middle and high school bullying happens on the school bus.

With all the hassle that it takes us as parents to provide an education to our kids, that doesn’t guarantee us that there won’t be an interruption, sometimes due to illness, travel emergency, relocation, natural disaster, and WAR as this is common nowadays. I was born and raised during the civil war in Lebanon, and I had a scattered education. Sometimes I couldn’t go to school because of bombing and shelling. I remember spending weeks in the shelter, almost doing nothing other than hiding. I also remember that at some point I had to move with my family from one city to another, even to another country. What about now, the war in Syria, kids running for there lives from one tent to another. The war in Yemen is still going on until now.

So what kind of different level of education do the schools offer? First, it is based on our income. The more you pay, the more you get. Does it mean that wealthy students are smarter than the poor ones? Unfortunately, the reality is that wealthy parents can offer a better standard of education for their children. Location is an important factor in today’s education. In Africa, you get a totally different education than in the United Kingdom. You could also be born in Egypt and studying in the United States of America if your parents can afford that. If you lived in Alexandria and wanted to study at Oxford University, imagine that amount of money that one person would need to land in the UK, let alone the cost of education. I know people working day and night just for the sake of providing the best education for their kids. Who doesn’t want that? Schools that we attend to determine our professional careers. I live in Dubai, and unfortunately, salaries are determined based on the schools that people have studied. Was it an option to choose the school or purely because of financial means?

education in a VR classroom

VR Classes are the Future of Education

Today and using Virtual Reality technology we can deliver a class A equal education to the whole world. Can you imagine having our kid’s education delivered at home? We have seen how efficient Khan Academy is. Using virtual reality technology, we cant transport our kids into a non-existent physical world without the need of moving. From the comfort of their homes, anywhere they are. They will be completely immersed and disconnected from the real world so that they can focus one hundred percent. Their education will also be tracked and asset using cloud technology. Their whole education plan will be logged and traceable.

How does it work? The teacher will have to install a 360º video camera wherever she will be standing to give her course to the virtual students. It can be at her home or under a tree like it used to be at the time of our ancestors! The footage will be live stream onto a cloud through the institution mobile application. The student wherever he is will need to have a smartphone with an internet connection and a head-mounted display. Through the app, the student will be able to follow the course. There will also be a two-way communication through the microphone of the smartphone. The student will have to option to install a camera so that the teacher can see him or he can use an avatar should he decide to hide his face. Students in the same class will also be able to see each other and interact together. The advantage of this technology is that students will have to log in and out of the app as if they were checking in and out from schools. The cost will be narrowed to a smartphone, data package, camera, and a yearly subscription paid monthly for the educational establishment running and operating the app.

a moder way of learning in VR

This technology will allow us to deliver education across the globe not only where we have schools established. This will dramatically decrease the cost of education as building schools won’t be needed. The most expensive component is the land. Then the construction and infrastructure. Investing in education in Africa and other parts of the world would be extremely low. We would provide our children with an equal education regardless of location, nationality, income…Education from home, from anywhere, without any boundaries. I can hear some parents now saying that this guy is gonna ruin our morning coffee because the only time for them to take a break is when the kids go to school. But that is not true, because the kids will be completely disconnected from the real world and fully immersed in the virtual world. Kids wouldn’t need any parents assistance as they can now have the support of a worldwide community.

A practical example, The children of Syria. They’ve been running for their lives for a couple of years now. They ended up being refugees in their own country living in tents and shelters. Wouldn’t it be great if they had access to education through VR technology? Having an interrupted education? Children who get hospitalized and then have to stay at home for a couple of weeks, wouldn’t be great to have an interrupted education?

Our grand-grand parents used to ride horses to commute. Today we use cars, and in the future, we will be self-driven. We don’t really have to ride horses today for commuting. Riding horses is becoming a hobby. Same goes for books, going to a library, reading a book will become a hobby. We should not be scared of the technology. A kid carrying a bag fully loaded with heavyweight books for fifteen years will definitely have an impact on his health in his mid-forties. Today there is an alternative for that. We should not be afraid of evolving. We should really know and understand how to adapt.

It is time to live without schools for a better education.

Watch the full episode of TEDx Talks about Virtual Reality in education with Karim Saad:

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