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VR in classrooms: It's unclear if it helps, but teachers want it

A new survey shows that a large majority of teachers nationwide think virtual reality would help improve learning outcomes.

It's too early to say what kind of outcomes virtual reality can produce inside classrooms, but a new survey from Samsung and GfK shows that teachers are nevertheless eager about using the emerging technology.

After polling more than 1,000 K-12 teachers nationwide, the survey found that 83 percent said VR might help improve students' comprehension of different concepts, inspire greater collaboration or better motivate students. As many as 93 percent of teachers said their students would be excited to use virtual reality.

Teachers were excited about deploying VR in multiple ways: 72 percent said they're interesting in using it to simulate experiences relevant to course material, such as flying as the Wright Brothers did in 1903. Additionally, 69 percent said they'd use it to take virtual field trips to distant landmarks.

Earlier this week, Google announced that it's making its virtual reality application Google Expeditions widely available. Expeditions has already been used by 1 million students in 11 countries since the beta version was launched. With its wide release, Google is making more than 200 "virtual field trips" available.

Ben Schrom, Google Expeditions product manager, acknowledged to reporters that there's no "hard science of whether we're improving outcomes." Still, he said that the level of engagement that VR creates can be "very powerful" and said the internet giant would like to see the academic community study the issue more.

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