Thoughts on Marketing
VR to the
Russian Educational System
Julia Khukalenko, research fellow at the Centre of National Technology Initiative,
lecturer at Far Eastern Federal University

In recent years, virtual reality is actively conquering educational institutions. Growing educational markets promise constant investments in this sphere from both public and private customers. So, can Russia become one of the large markets and appeal to educational content-developers in the near future?

First of all, it is important to clarify what kind of educational content is expected in the Russian Federation. After the "hype times" and experimenting with primitive cardboards, teachers started looking for the real purposes behind VR technology, trying to find the answer to the following questions. How effective is this technology? Why should we use it? Can it improve student's achievements? Is there something fundamentally new in an immersive educational content? Discussions of these topics have led to two points of view on VR as an educational technology: fun-oriented and results-oriented.

According to the first approach, VR is a great tool for student motivation. Thus, VR-content must be appealing, engaging, interesting and not necessarily more effective than the chalkboard. In other words, if a school can afford VR-headsets and both teachers and learners are happy to use it, then the school administration makes a decision to implement VR practice in the curriculum. This view is predominant at the moment in many Western schools, where the happiness of the students is seemingly no less important than their academic results.
vTime application
In Russia, where education historically is results-oriented, academic performance is always the first priority. Thus, implementing new technology must have a grounding and solid reasons backing it. Despite the advantages of this position, it has two main flaws. First, proving the effectiveness of VR in education will take the time and the effort of many content-producers and researchers. Second, once the decision is made, it is made for the whole system of Russian secondary education: the majority of schools are public, and they are financed directly from the federal budget. As a result, all the teachers will be forced to implement the technology, even if they are not ready for it or appreciative of it.

Therefore, the decision on implementing VR in Russia depends on the government, which sponsors all the changes in the educational system. It is not enough for VR-content developers to put their products on Steam or any other marketplace and wait for schools to buy it. Conventional promotion of VR products won't be effective by itself either. In order to implement VR in the Russian educational system, the industry must demonstrate the effectiveness of this technology to the decision-makers.
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