UAE’s truly maiden interplanetary mission, The Hope Probe plays a meaningful role in national development. It sends across a strong message that in a community of different countries, UAE is second to none in harnessing technology. The nation is leveraging the technology for the betterment of humanity.
In every purview, the government is undertaking steps to disseminate knowledge and excitement of the Mars Mission through immersive education. To arouse the zest for space exploration in budding minds, the government, with VRXOne, is showcasing Virtual Reality trip to Mars in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and in regional schools.
The zeal for the Mars mission is an important key to unlock curiosity-driven learning in space exploration. It promotes innovation and research & development. While many ambitious students excel at their research to reach the Red Planet, they are upgrading their knowledge using VR. With the Classroom Format Virtual Reality Experience using VRXOne, the students and visitors have added access to widen their imagination about space.
Given the zeal and interest, the space centre is witnessing numerous applications from students majoring in science and engineering fields. By working in the company of expert scientists and using Virtual Reality to supplement their experiences, the students are playing a collaborative role in the mission. Moreover, with the localization of the major space work, many students, especially women are taking the lead in the operations.
The Hope Probe will reach the orbit of Mars in 2021, on the landmark 50th anniversary of the country.
The programme is insightful for the students at the space centre and in schools. It provides in-depth knowledge and exposure about the Mars Mission. The VR Field Trip to Mars provides an effective touchpoint between the classroom and the space mission. When students experience a voyage to the red planet, they automatically strike conversations with their fellow learners. They discuss their experiences of the Martian landscape. Inside the field trip, the students view rocks and cliffs on the Mars surface, projected outwards towards the user. The graphics have real depth to enhance immersion.
The students cannot help but wonder – Can I be on Mars too?
By encouraging immersive learning programmes, the Emirates is ingraining the enthusiasm for science research and planetary exploration in upcoming generation.
These consistent efforts to ignite the spirit of exploration are welcome globally. Dr Jim Rice, Nasa geology team leader and co-investigator on the Nasa Mars Exploration Rover Project Science Team applauds UAE. He says
“I am impressed with the UAE’s commitment and its plans for space exploration in both the manned and unmanned sectors.”
“This project can be a very important stepping stone in humanity’s quest to move mankind off this planet and on to Mars, thereby making us a multi-planet species.”
A National Pursuit
The UAE will celebrate another fifty years of growth and prosperity. The commemorative year will reflect on the milestones of the past and align the vision.
The Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid assures that the Mars mission carries the aspirations and dreams of the Arab world.
While flagging off the mission, he gave three important messages for its fruition.
“The first message is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and will play that role again; the second message is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible, and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge and the third message is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions, and you can reach even to space.”
The effort to reach the red planet is a collective national pursuit.
The Hope Mission is the UAE’s answer to the questions about the Red Planet that have long puzzled the scientists. The UAE prepares to shine brighter than gold on its golden jubilee.
Establishing themselves as a vibrant, progressive society, the Middle East has laid special emphasis on equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities. The leaders here understand that citizen participation and accountability in futuristic progress can be enhanced through a qualitative improvement in the education system. Consequently, the Middle East has become a flagbearer of innovation in education. Virtual Reality remains at the helm of these progressions, and it is being exhaustively deployed in schools.
Virtual Reality is also an active accomplice to spreading the UAE’s message for tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and cultural awareness. The country is celebrating 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance’. The Emiratis are showing the world how a progressive society like theirs, furthers a modern collaborative approach while staying in touch with its ethnicity.
In the last couple of years, many schools introduced VR to create a new learning environment alongside creating a culture of innovation and inquisitiveness. Educators switched to VR since it is an accessible way of involving the students in lessons while giving them access to the practical implementation of their learning. It has already been established that practical learning is the most effective method for student engagement. But the constraints of physical boundaries, investment, and resources limit its mainstreaming. This is where immersive learning techniques like Virtual Reality step up.
VR Journey to Explore The Cultures of The World
Interestingly, students and teachers are playing a vital role in this experience. Through VRXOne’s ongoing ‘Tolerance Program‘ the students are embarking on the discovery of enticing cultural experiences.
With expeditions to monuments that are a thousand years old like the Egyptian Pyramids, or to exploratory sites and museums at distant places, the students enrich themselves with inter-cultural wisdom. The virtual reality expeditions also allow students to empathize and experience how the kids in third world countries like Africa go to school and study. To establish friendlier relations within communities and strengthen the values of harmony, there are field trips through which students enjoy festivals of the world. It is such journey that make us believe that the world is one big family. Through these expeditions, students realize the importance of acting collectively and individually, with complete transparency, consistency and fairness.
Learn about Religions and Beliefs in VR
Festivities and celebrations bring individuals closer. It is a pure delight to be a part of unique ceremonies; streets and towns adorned with flags, pictures, banners, and decorations. The world today is moving towards establishing a tolerant, co-existing society and the Pope’s recent visit to the UAE is the one historic moment that has us propelled in the right direction. UAE is, indeed, an epitome of harmonious living where communities share their joys.
“The UAE is continuing to strengthen its foundation for future growth with new ways of learning, modernizing the way teachers share knowledge and skills while also enabling students to become competitive with positive values that will make them a force for good.”
Thanks to Virtual Reality, children of the Middle East are now also well-acquainted with unique rituals of the world and learn to respect their differences gracefully. From visualizing the fun and frolic of Diwali to being a part of the Halloween amusements, everything is near to reality. For the non-muslim users of Virtual Reality, it is now more accessible than ever to understand the Islamic faith and experience the festivals like Eid through immersive visuals.
Why Students Love VR – It Is Fun & Makes Them Confident
Schools of the region like GEMS education have incorporated Virtual Reality as an essential part of their classroom. One of the teachers from the school explains the effect it has on the students,
“When students come from a VR expedition, I see dramatic improvements in the way they perceive lessons. They have better clarity, more enthusiasm. Most of them display improvement in their test scores.”
For students, the VR class is a delightful time when they’re en route to their favorite voyage. When asked, a student from Dubai Scholars Private School explains his experience of using Virtual Reality.
“Virtual Reality makes me feel involved in the environment like I am a part of it. It’s like being featured in a game. I was struggling with concepts like the anatomy of the nervous system and muscular system. With Virtual Reality, it became easy to view these lessons.”, says a student of GEMS Wellington, Dubai.
As becomes conclusive, many students view VR as a game. And it is rightly so!
Virtual Reality is an improvised version of practical learning. Additionally, the fact that it is interactive and fun makes it all the more attractive to students. It is also much more accessible, scalable, immersive and affordable with a one-time investment.
Introducing Virtual Reality in regional schools has been a commendable transformation.
But there are some places where VR lessons are even more meaningful. These are the regions where people cannot afford a quality education. For many of these students, visiting places like Wonders of the World is a far-fetched dream.
The good news is that many of these students have realized this dream through Virtual Reality. While students of the region experienced VR Expeditions with the leading immersive learning program – VRXOne, many of the underprivileged students also tried their hands on the technology. Amongst these were some students who overcame the shackles of physical and mental disabilities to experience distraction-free learning.
While 2018 was an important period for maturation and mainstreaming of Virtual Reality in the classroom, 2019 is the year for greater strides.
Dubai is hitting another major milestone with the VR based STEM Lab Program for schools
Over a million students and thousands of teachers across the Middle East have experienced the most immersive technologies. Their collective huge response in favor of these technologies and the positive impact they have on education has already led many schools in Dubai to introduce the modern learning methodologies in classrooms. These schools have termed VR technology as “a powerful learning tool”.
Virtual Reality for Public Schools in the Middle East
Moving forward, the education ecosystem in UAE is now hitting another major milestone with VRXOne’s VR based STEM Lab Program for schools. Designed around the Classroom Format, the initiative is the largest program of its kind helping educators to implement VR, AR and Ai led education in schools across the Middle East. A massive initiative to put the region on the world map as the most advanced in classroom learning solutions and teaching aides.
Prior to it, UAE government’s A Million Coders Program and subsequently, VRXOne’s One Million Expeditions for Emirati youth, gained immense response for their impact in enhancing students’ learning abilities. It comes as no surprise then that immersive technologies are dictating a massive shift in human-technology interaction. And VR based STEM Lab is the next step in classroom education not only locally but globally as well. Instead of moving around a mouse or tapping on a screen, we are able to step inside and explore the realities of our universe in the virtual world.
We know for a fact that the early adoption of these immersive technologies is a must as per the government’s vision of a knowledge-based economy. It is the only way to close the gap between education and job markets at a rapid pace. And VRXOne’s VR based Lab Program helps to work towards that goal by providing the youth with the most immersive learning solutions.
“VRXOne has the largest library of VR/AR/Ai lessons available in Arabic Language covering a huge range of STEM Subjects.”
VR for STEM Education – Leading the Way
Virtual Reality has emerged as the ultimate medium for delivering “experiential learning”. No other methodology even comes close in impact. The fact that no physical or geographical boundaries stand in the way of this technology, is reason alone for its huge impact. Add to that the element of safety and cost-effectiveness and you have a win-win combination.
Virtual Reality is the ideal technology and well-suited to delivering the learning in STEM subjects. Since all these disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics – are based on highly critical thinking and applied knowledge, VR is the perfect fit for STEM education.
VRXOne’s VR based Classroom Format offers the most advanced level standalone program today equipped with machine learning applications allowing the teachers full control of the curriculum-aligned virtual lessons. VRXOne has the largest library of VR/AR/Ai lessons available in Arabic Language covering a huge range of STEM subjects. No longer does a student need a physical presence in a science lab to understand a concept thoroughly. Every VR class provides pedagogically sound, engaging content to students for proper exploration and understanding. For instance, VR technology eliminates the need for a microscope to examine an organism or to study DNA sequencing. The VR lab actually provides full immersion for further exploration of DNA and the atom at the molecular level. Something which is not possible in a physical lab.
Such are the opportunities available to STEM students today in the UAE made possible through the VR technology. These captivating lessons are the way forward for the youth to develop the right skill-set needed for the future markets in the era of technology. Moreover, the technology is exactly in line with the innovation goals of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai,
“Our vision for development is driven by a deep understanding of the future needs, and built on proactive ideas because we want to be in first place globally. Our methodology for development is based on the launch of initiatives that can be applied anywhere in the world and creating a global model for not only our economy but also for the global economy,”
Learning Languages is Fun with VR
Learning a new language is one of the most exciting as well as daunting things for a student or any individual. There is always an initial hesitation with a new way to pronounce, speak and interact. VR helps to eliminate the element of hesitation and self-consciousness by providing scenario-based, highly interactive environments to develop new language skills. It can put you in a class full of learners or amongst the native speakers to perfect your command over the language.
Because VR experiences support interaction and are able to replicate different situations, there isn’t a more realistic way to learn a language than reality itself. With VR, you could either be buying cannoli on the streets of Sicily or asking for directions in Turkey. There is the added benefit of instant feedback on pronunciation and suggestions for vocabulary to further enrich your learning experience. The Head of Languages at Methodist Ladies’ College in Melbourne, Chloe Briand opines that VR helps to build students’ confidence and reduce the level of anxiety associated with learning languages, “This is a tool that you use to practise and improve on your fluency and accuracy in a real-life scenario, without feeling self-conscious in front of a native speaker. It’s the perfect segue between a relaxed familiar environment and the outside world.”
Building a VR lesson is Easy
Being a great interactive medium, it is fairly easy to build and create a lesson in VR for both teachers and students. For instance, it is as easy as ‘1,2,3’ to get a class started on a Google Expedition. But in case you wanted something more, you could easily use Google StreetView to create an exclusive expedition of your own. Visit famous landmarks or walk through historical places.
By virtue of being a virtual medium, VR can put you in any location, inside a lab or an archeological site in an instant. There are boundless opportunities to explore and learn with VR so much so that not only does it remove geographical walls but time-bound as well. You can explore the lengths of Roman Colosseum or walk on the Acropolis of Athens. It is all within reach with VR.
Bringing Augmented Reality in Schools
In the same fashion, Augmented Reality enhances the learning experience for STEM lessons. You can use it to examine the 3D models of plants, animals as well as the natural features in your class. Students can go “deeper” in a lesson by rotating, swiping, and zooming in and out of a model at will. They can even take photos or videos of the model within their surroundings.AR is a great learning technology and brings huge value to everyday lesson plans. Aligned with the standards of the UAE Ministry of Education, the platform supports all kinds of different visual overlays and hundreds of lesson plans with valuable educational content.
Artificial Intelligence for Today’s Classroom
Immersive technologies can help us to make classroom learning fun and exciting as well as more relevant and comprehensive. But at the same time, it is important to monitor the students’ performance to ensure positive outcomes and compliance with the educational standards.
This is where Artificial Intelligence helps to customize lessons for students providing a cross-reference between subjects to support interdisciplinary learning. Moreover, the automation of processes through Ai – such as performance monitoring, feedback, marking, tracking growth, etc. – provide further assistance in the class freeing up more time for teachers. On the part of students, Ai helps them understand concepts better and self-pace their studies. It also inculcates innovative and entrepreneurial thinking in the students’ something which is the need of the day. Sreejit Chakrabarty, the Director of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at Gems Education Dubai, says that Ai opens a huge door of opportunities for young minds, “Naturally, this Ai literacy brings in and helps students to extend their knowledge of English, Maths, and Coding. For example, by seeing how their programming strategies are reflected in the learning and behavior of a machine, they can better grasp abstract concepts such as to cause and effect. They can also get immediate feedback from the machine and iterate their ideas based upon this. These are powerful opportunities for learning in a cross-disciplinary way.”
Teachers are Ready for VR Education in the UAE
Arab teachers view the virtual and augmented reality apps as invaluable mediums to support “deeper learning” practices. As more and more content is being developed to align with curriculum requirements, the teachers find it immensely helpful to inspire curiosity to learn and ingenuity to create in their students.
Martha McCleary, Head of Digital Literacy at Foremarke School Dubai, shares her experience of VR in the classroom and how it has helped to involve students in the learning process, “We have been using VR to visit faraway places and go on virtual field trips. This heightens engagement in lessons as children get to experience new environments. Recently we have begun looking at creating our own VR experiences. The children are busy creating online galleries of their work. Beyond learning about VR, this engages the children in learning about design and user experience.”
One of the GEM schools, The Winchester School at Jebel Ali has also teamed up with VRXOne to improve learning productivity of their students using VR and Ai. The Vice-Principal of the school, Dr. Ritika Anandbelieves that these immersive technologies become the basis to provide a thorough and holistic learning experience to the students, “Student experience is the biggest testimonial of a school’s commitment to providing holistic learning. The use of technologies like VR is aligned with the concept of experiential learning in pedagogy. Such technologies encourage inquisitiveness, innovation, and excellence, and ultimately lead to bigger impact through nation development.”
Students Ready for Expo2020 and the Year of Innovation Ahead
In the wake of these immersive learning experiences, students are well-equipped for the year of innovation ahead. Ai has a huge part to play in UAE’s National Innovation Strategy. Consequently, it is also a major component of Expo 2020 as well. As UAE gears towards the fast-approaching event, the students are enthusiastically curious about using Ai to put their imagination to work and manifest their innovative ideas into reality.
The Emirati youth is more than ready for the upcoming challenges ahead backed by their mentor and the State Minister for Artificial Intelligence, His Excellency Omar Sultan Bin Olama, “Youth have a responsibility to contribute to the development of the region and look into the use of future technologies for a better future for all.” Speaking to a conference in Sharjah, he stressed upon the importance of AI as part of youth’s everyday life now and said, “Each of you have to be aware how to use it and develop it for you to be able to adopt it.”