How can we avoid being condemned to making the mistakes of the past? Virtual Reality might be the perfect solution suggests Tony Ford, VR Director of Chronos Studios. In his TedX talk Ford explains why virtual reality can transform our education system and help the next generation build a better future.
Tony Ford starts his TedX talk by asking how many of us were enthralled by history in school? For many endless reading and memorisation are our most common memories of history education. At the same time we also that know that learning history is important. Ford quotes the Spanish Philosopher George Santayana who once noted that:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Ford points out that history is about memory. The history we learn are our memories of our greatest triumphs and our worst tragedies. Unfortunately those memories may be disappear as we become more ignorant of our past.
In recent years we have seen the rebirth of nationalism. It is no coincidence that that at the same time we are seeing the last of the generation who fought the Second World War II dying. With them their living memories are also dying.
In the 20th century we need a way to teach large numbers of students in history in a practical way. As a consequence we used reading, rote memorization and testing. This dry delivery of history gave students the basic information about what occurred but it didn’t impart the meaningfulness of that history.
Ford moves on to say that our brains can’t distinguish between memories formed through virtual reality and reality, When we experience history through virtual reality we can instill a new memory.
Using virtual reality we can create a participatory narrative of what it was like to experience a historical event. Using VR we build the story on the fly. It is important to us because we are the ones creating it.
Ford shows how virtual reality is already being used by first responders for training. It is creates the muscle memory that allows them to respond to emergencies. This same principle can be used for creating memories of historical events.
Virtual reality is also much less expensive than most people realize. Virtual reality can experienced using a simple Google Cardboard headset and a headset. This headset can be manufactured for less than a dollar. (See other virtual reality headsets for less than $20 here).
Lastly ask the crowd to imagine what it would be like to be at the Gettysburg Address. Ford describes exactly what it must have been like to be there. He then goes onto show why virtual reality is the perfect way to impart the moral lessons from the Gettysburg Address.
Ford’s talk illustrates that virtual reality has an extremely important role to play in education. By using virtual reality students can build their own memories of some of history’s most important moments. This solution is realistic and cost effective. It is also one of the best ways of ensuring we do not repeat our past mistakes and build a better world in the future.