5 Questions with Ondrej Homola, CEO of Lifeliqe

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As a continuation of our award-winning series of Five Questions with edtech and education leaders, we were honored to have the opportunity to ask our questions to Ondrej Homola, the CEO of Lifeliqe, which won a 2016 “Best EdTech” award. Here are our questions and Ondrej’s answers.

Q: Your company, Lifeliqe, allows teachers to include virtual reality and 3-D models in lesson plans and learning activities, which is something we’re seeing more and more of in education. What’s the main advantage for using VR and 3-D images in classroom learning? And what makes Lifeliqe different?

Researches have proven that using both VR and 3D in education has positive effects on learning. It leads to higher engagement and better understanding, in case of VR the major benefit is the immersion – a possibility to control the whole environment. The kids are simply loving it.
But what we realised pretty soon is that it’s not enough to have just 1000 interactive 3D models. What teachers are looking for is a way how to use them, some kind of blueprint. That’s where we started working on Lifeliqe lesson plans of which we have more than 200 now, covering K-12 STEM subjects. Any teacher has also the possibility to create his own 3D enhanced lesson plans: just upload a document and drag&drop the models into it.
Regarding VR, I’m not aware of any other educational VR app so content rich as Lifeliqe VR Museum. But we are constantly talking to teachers on how to improve both our apps to spark more lightbulb moments and ignite lifelong learning passion. I believe that’s our main differentiator from others.
Q: It’s pretty clear that, as the technology improves, VR and related tools will become more common in classrooms. On a timeline, where would you say education is in the widespread development and use of VR in education? Are we still in the stone ages or the enlightenment or are we already in the communication age?
I believe that we’re somewhere in the middle. VR as a technology has proven itself viable but what it still lacks is a quality content. Schools are definitely interested in VR, but it’s hard for them to identify the right way how to use it.
We’ve been piloting our VR content in number of schools and the reactions were off the charts. Kids were loving it and teachers couldn’t believe how the kids are engaged. VR is definitely working.
The sheer interest from schools in pilots raised by Lifeliqe VR Museum make me believe that it won’t take long before VR will be spread in large scale. I’m not talking about a headset for every kid but in the beginning the schools can purchase a device into their library or science lab. And I believe that once they realize there’s good content out there, they won’t hesitate.
Q: What’s something teachers or other school leaders don’t realize about using these new teaching tools? Or about Lifeliqe specifically?
There’s so much we all still don’t realize about VR! But what teachers usually worry about is that they won’t know how to use it. And it takes courage to try something as progressive as VR. They don’t have the confidence, which means they’re not comfortable. But later, after they’ve tried it, teachers are always surprised how easy it is to use VR, they’re getting confident and that’s where good teaching starts: with confidence.
Teachers also tend to underestimate the effects. We piloted Lifeliqe VR Museum at an alternative school in Bay Area, where students are especially hard to engage. After the class, teacher told us that she has never seen them so interested in the topic as when they were using VR.
Q: What’s the main road-block to wider, deeper use of VR in schools? Is it tech? Cost? Teacher training? Something else?
These factors definitely affect the adoption but I believe the key is the content. Once there’s a convenient, effective and up-to-date content, the technology will fulfill its purpose and the schools won’t hesitate with investing into the tech and teacher training.
As I outlined earlier, I think it won’t take long before we start witnessing large-scale spread VR. It might not be the high-end devices, but even the basic VR can serve as very effective and helpful educational tool.
Q: How has the market response been to Lifeliqe? And what’s the future hold for you and your company?
For a one-year-old, we have achieved quite a lot in 2016. We’ve launched Lifeliqe, that has been welcomed by the teachers and students all over the world, and also voted among 20 Best EdTech by Common Sense Education. We also became strategic partner for education of HTC Vive and launched Lifeliqe VR Museum, that was downloaded more than 15,000 times in 4 months.

But we are staying humble and we’ll keep working hard. With that I believe that the future will be bright, not just for us but for the whole education industry.