I enjoyed our Augmented & Virtual Realities (AR/VR) presentation from the delightful Logan and Bill this past week. The information they provided as well as their witty antics kept the pace and my mind racing. I can barely keep a grip on my own reality at the best of times so the thought of entering a virtual or augmented reality exhausts me (in retrospect, perhaps entering a different or augmented reality is the solution!).
Prior to this class and this week’s readings, I could not have explained either VR or AR let alone told you the difference between them. Similar to Amy and Jayme Lee, I’ve associated all things “video gamish” with my husband (and increasingly my son) as his area of interest and VR/AR seemed to fit within this make-believe world. VR/AR reminded me of Star Trekkie things and the sci-fi world. Sci-fi is not my world or area of interest (I’ve now officially insulted many of you – sorry, but I cannot love Star Trek). So, when I saw ads for weird head contraptions and encountered people guided by their phones on my running paths (aka Pokemon Go players), I assumed a certain type of person was interested in this type of recreational, technological play, but I never imagined I would use or understand AR/VR. — one quick amendment: I did go on an amazing VR Transformers ride at Universal Studies which I remembered after typing this. It was very cool and one of my favourite rides.
After this past week, I now understand that in virtual reality I become a part of another world or experience a different reality. Augmented reality allows another reality to enter my current world and is embedded into my physical reality. I also now understand that there is great potential in education to use both AR/VR. Reede and Bailiff (2016) indicate that VR is a useful tool and “perhaps even a productive enhancement to human interaction, bringing together people from around the world to engage and interact.” Dunleavy, Dede & Mitchell discuss studies that report that AR implementations result in substantial student motivation. In addition, in his article Augmented reality brings new dimensions to learning (2013), Minock states
Educators know that learning deepens, not just through reading and listening, but also through creating and interacting… After all, profound learning occurs when students create, share, interact and explain.
So…what does this mean for me as a non-gaming, non-head gear wearing, non-Trekkie educator? I will tell you that it leaves me a bit overwhelmed. I can see the amazing experiences that AR/VR create and there is no question that my students would be completely engaged and the learning experiences would be rich. However, I lack the knowledge about where to start or how to attain what I need to make this technology a part of my classroom. So I will suggest that the digital divide goes beyond our students. Perhaps there is a dividing digital line between educators as well. A lack of training or available resources between teachers and schools also creates a gap of equity.
As an educator, I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. I desire to learn more in order to provide better experiences for my students. When something outside of my scope (AR/VR) is presented, I feel both excited at the opportunity and overwhelmed at how to practically implement it into my current practice. I am learning that I don’t need to know how to do everything. My students are super quick at discovering and teaching me if I give them an opportunity. This means remembering to move toward Web/Education 3.0 thinking.
That being said, I need a practical way to start (as I am the mother of practicality) . So, I went searching to find ways to utilize AR/VR:
- I came across this article that suggests 32 apps to implement AR. I can do apps. That makes sense to me.
- As well, in her blog post, Jayme Lee mentioned using AR to set up videos for circuits in PE. This is a great idea as many of my students need to see an example.
- Finally, I found a video of using AR in math. The student hovered over an image to watch a video which explained concepts. I currently teach two grades of math at once and using this strategy would be a great way to change up instruction and increase my availability.
While these are good places to start, I know the use of AR/VR requires time and intentionality as well as resources. I hope to start small, but I still sweat a bit when I think about it! So, here’s to trying new things. How will you use AR/VR? Are you a confident user or more reluctant like myself?