Week 6

Week 6 — Immersion in Education

After exploring topics this week such as virtual reality, augmented reality, virtual worlds and holography, the big question I’ve kept asking myself is “What will my classroom look like 10, 15, 20 years from now?” It’s an important question because I plan to be a teacher for at least another 20 years — and I don’t plan on being one of those “dinosaur” teachers who are stuck using outdated methods of instruction.

These futuristic topics give me a concrete notion that education and how it’s delivered in my classroom will always change from year to year. Change, in fact, has already taken place from the time I began my teaching career in 2009 to now. My classroom management in regards to technology has shifted from being an entirely paper-based curriculum to a mostly cloud-based curriculum. Switching to cloud-based has not come easily, though. It has taken motivation on my part to figure out how all this stuff works. From my experience, not all teachers are willing to put in the time and effort to change the way they deliver instruction. Why? Because it’s easy to do the same thing year after year. It takes effort to say something as simple as “How can I update this project students create every year so it integrates technology?”

Let’s imagine in a perfect world that my school had access to the latest classroom technology in virtual reality, augmented reality, virtual worlds and holography. If I approached the teaching staff at the beginning of the school year and asked who would be willing to use these tools, I’m guessing many would quiver in fear of doing something new. Offer them some professional development, however, with concrete examples of how to use these tools in the classroom and perhaps a few would change their mind. My point here is that change happens slowly — and sometimes forcefully — in public education.

I once heard a teacher say that students are immersed in so much technology outside of the classroom that they don’t need to be immersed with anymore inside the classroom. I can understand their argument. Students do need to learn social skills. That is half of what school is all about. But humans are immersed in many things on a daily basis: books, drawing, writing, work, thought. There are a variety of ways we drift into another world or thinking. As far as the classroom goes, I envision technology such as virtual reality becoming another tool for students to immerse themselves in another world. To me, it’s no different than opening up a book and entering another world through the perspective of a character or author. The only difference is that books allow students to look up. How will we learn when it’s appropriate to turn off VR?

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