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Improving Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills with Virtual Reality

Yes, it is time for another Virtual Reality (VR) post. But I gotta say, I am very passionate about this one - VR in Critical Thinking and Problem Solving skills. Let me justify why I think this is super important first.

Quick Google definition of what intelligence is:

- A person or being with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge.

- The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Simple, but the point is how to acquire knowledge? You gotta learn. But we all experienced the classic cognitive dissonance (the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change) as we learn. If you find a way to through cognitive dissonance, you will acquire new knowledge. And that is the challenge I want to talk about and how VR can help with it - dealing with cognitive dissonance.

VR technology offers a unique opportunity to enhance the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills in students. By creating SAFE (yes safe, after all, students know it is a simulation), complex and realistic scenarios, students are challenged to analyze and solve problems in a dynamic and interactive environment.

Use of Virtual Reality to Create Complex and Realistic Scenarios VR technology provides an unparalleled level of immersion and realism, allowing students to experience complex and dynamic scenarios that challenge their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Ok ok ok, you might be thinking "I do not have the necessary skills to create such environments". Well, fear not! There are plenty of "plug and play" apps out there (free and paid). If you want to give your students a "passive experience", you can use YouTube VR. For example, YouTube VR can be used to simulate real-world situations, such as disaster response scenarios, and require students to analyze information, make decisions, and respond to challenges in real time. For example, I once used a first responder simulation app to app to give students the "feel" of urgency and consequences for the simulation. Of course, students were not great once during their first attempts. After understanding the step-by-step they needed to do, which procedures were more important to save lives and thinking critically about what steps would bring better results, students felt more comfortable handling the simulation and had developed a deeper understanding of the procedures and pressure first responders have on a daily basis. Encouraging Students to Analyze and Solve Problems in Virtual Environments By providing students with hands-on, interactive learning experiences, VR can help them develop the skills and confidence they need to analyze and solve problems in real-world situations where failure is tolerable and not punished. Students then are encouraged to try trial and error, while learning from their mistakes and applying their newly acquired skills to future challenges that can happen within a few minutes. Once, I used an experimental social simulation app with a few students who were interested in trying new apps. The app would put students in simulations on how to engage in conversation, de-escalate a fight between friends or even how to interact with a large group of people. Engaging in any social situation requires a lot of problem-solving and critical thinking, but the consequences in the real world can be dire - bullying, rejection, isolation and so on. Not many students have the endurance to continue trying till they thrive. But VR can assist students with trial and error and discussions to post a VR session can also greatly increase knowledge retention and give different tools to students on how to interact socially.

In short, virtual reality can be an effective tool for improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills in students mainly because it is very immersive and it provides a safe environment where it's okay to make mistakes and to fix them shortly after they are made.

Nik Zetouni

Next Gen’s CEO

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