On VR/AR/MR for education

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to a liberal arts college’s faculty and staff about new technologies and pedagogies.  Specifically I presented on the combination of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), with an eye towards liberal education.


(Above is a fun 360 image capture, done by Kristy Golubiewski-Davis.  Click on  the full 360 image and explore.)

Here are my slides, embedded below.  The plan was to introduce the technologies to everyone, so that they all had a common baseline understanding, then moved on to explore pedagogical issues, including support.

Discussion was excellent.  It was fun to hear other people remember VR from the 1990s. There were good questions about the technologies, unsurprisingly, and some teaching ideas floated.  One administrator with a great deal of ed tech experience had a fine question about the unique value of VR/AR/MR – i.e., why do these technologies, rather than any other?  What do they add that nothing else does?

Another participant raised the vital business question of just how beholden users (and colleges and universities and libraries and museums) are to VR/AR/MR companies.  The answer I gave was: very.  There’s little in the way of interoperability, and no major nonprofit or governmental effort to support common ground or data export.

Local staff did fine work of bringing in tech for me and a followup session, and I didn’t do enough to use it during my time, which was a mistake.  People really need to experience VR/etc to get a sense of how it can be used.

I’m guessing we’ll see these kinds of discussion occurring across many schools and cultural heritage institutions during 2017, along with pilot projects and/or departments simply trying out the tech.  Programmatic implementation is down the road for now.

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3 Responses to On VR/AR/MR for education

  1. bolomk333 says:

    …and 40 years later, we might get it into primary education?

  2. emdalton says:

    Did you see the ZapBox kickstarter? Sort of Google Cardboard level mixed reality, with free authoring tools. I think this has a lot more possibilities for schools than proprietary high-priced systems. While a lot of what I think about for VR/MR is for distance learning (e.g. virtual labs), I also like the idea of AR/MR as a hypothes.is-like markup mode for reality. What if a class of students could walk through a botanical garden or museum and see each other’s comments about the exhibits? What if students went out into their own communities and tagged historical locations and artifacts for one another (and the community) to see? I also like the work that’s being done to use VR as a way to share point of view and help develop empathy for those in very different circumstances (e.g. refugees). While I don’t think VR/AR/MR are any kind of educational silver bullet or world saving technology, I do see a lot of possibilities for educational uses.

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