Why Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Here to Stay: The Merge Cube | Kevin Merges | 3 Min Read

By Stephanie Lyons (MERGE EDU) and Kevin Merges

As futuristic as the technology seems, augmented and virtual reality have been around for quite some time. The first VR invention can be traced back as early as 1838 when Charles Wheatstone invented the stereoscope. Since then, AR/VR has made significant progress and is now quickly making its way into major industries worldwide including training and education. Let’s take a look at AR and VR in a classroom context.

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital elements like 3D models and animations into real-world environments and can help students understand complex material. Students can also create and develop their own AR content to share with others. Both learning and creating with AR provide exposure to future-readiness skills that students need to start acquiring now.

Using Virtual Reality (VR) in the classroom gives students opportunities to take virtual field trips, fully immersing them in an educational experience. Students can now visit museums from all over the world to see exhibits first-hand, experience historical events and places from the past, see the world from others’ perspectives, and more. With VR, students are engaged and focused on what they’re learning because they’re placed in the middle of the action.

AR/VR takes learning to the level of experiencing, and as educators, we need to be aware of this technology and put it into practice with our students as soon as possible. Using AR/VR in your classroom will not only help promote knowledge, creativity, and understanding of complex material but can also help promote a sense of curiosity and wonder in your students. It’s truly a revolutionary tool that will forever change the way we share and communicate knowledge and training.

As the world continues to evolve at a rapid pace, there’s an ever-growing need for students to reach advanced technology fluency before they graduate from high school, so it’s important to put the right AR/VR tools into their hands today. This not only helps them get comfortable with modern technology for everyday life but will also better prepare them for higher education and future careers. 

When looking for solutions to bring to your school, take a look at Merge EDU. Merge is currently the market leader in education-ready AR/VR, and their Merge EDU platform allows students to interact with AR and VR content using a variety of spatial computing models, including the ability to touch 3D content. Utilizing touch is unique to Merge, and sets them apart from existing solutions because it enables a highly immersive and intuitive experience. Connecting the brain and the hand provides the most natural interface for learning, which works well for many types of learners in your classroom.

The Merge EDU platform includes the Merge Cube, Merge EDU software, and Merge AR/VR Headset. The Merge Cube is a soft foam cube that allows you to touch and interact with a digital object using computer vision technology and the camera and sensors in a mobile device. The premise is simple: just download and launch a Merge EDU app, then point your device at the Merge Cube to watch it transform. 

For Science and STEM teachers, this is a game-changer. Using spatial computing to hold and interact with digital objects helps explain complex concepts effectively. Students can “learn by doing” with hands-on simulations in ways that would otherwise be messy, expensive, difficult, or impossible to replicate in real life. For example, even younger students can experiment with and manipulate concepts like reversible change, magnets and polarity, the characteristics of invisible waves, and more. It takes complex concepts out of the abstract and literally puts them in students’ hands for concrete learning and deep understanding. 

Implementing these programs can be tricky, which is why Merge EDU helps teachers by providing a library of curriculum-aligned and powerful, hands-on digital teaching aids and interactive simulations. The simulations and digital teaching aids are organized into collections that fit nicely into lessons and are just as effective as traditional teaching aids for learning. Merge EDU also comes with science standards-aligned activity plans, integrated quizzes, STEM Projects that allow students to create their own AR content, and other helpful getting started resources. 

If you’re interested in trying this amazing new approach to teaching, Merge offers a free trial of their Merge EDU platform and a printable Merge Paper Cube, so you can try it out for yourself today. 

AR/VR technology is being adopted more and more by schools around the world, and it’s only going to continue growing from here. Schools and educators wanting to stay innovative can longer ignore it. The technology is mature and is ready to be put into the hands of your students today. 

Kevin Merges

Dr. Kevin Merges has been Executive Director of Global Education Programs and Director of The Innovation Center, Rutgers Preparatory School (NJ) since 2014. Previously, he was a teacher and Director of Program Advancement at Rutgers Prep School since 2000. He has taught math and research at Rutgers Preparatory School and Rutgers University. He serves as a representative of the United Nations Education Committee.

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