Updated: Feb 21, 2022
The students showed up to class and rather than take out their notebooks and a pencil, they stretched out their arms, cleared their workspace, and prepared to explore another reality.
As educators, we venture to make an impact that we hope leads to great triumphs and successes in the future for our students. The reality is that we don't often see that impact; We don't realize what difference we make or how our piece of the puzzle fits into the grand scheme. That changed the day I had my students put on a headset and sent them off on a journey.
It's logical to believe that when a child opens a book they learn some of what they read; when they watch a documentary, they'll grasp a new perspective; when they work in groups they learn how to collaborate or work in teams. We know that some kids will learn faster, others will be able to recall many facts and details, some may be able to apply concepts with ease, but many might forget it all in a week or a month if they're lucky. How does the human mind work? What helps us to remember facts, apply concepts, develop theories, engage in intellectual discussions? Is it time and a mature mind? Virtual and Augmented realities (XR) have matured to a point that our students have the opportunity today to not only be engaged but immersed in their learning. The empathy, intuitiveness, interactivity of these technologies sparks the brain in ways and places that have been in sleep mode most of the school day.
My students have realized instant gratification when it comes to learning. They've seen the peaks of mountains, learned how to communicate in languages they've never heard spoken, and have been able to work in groups to apply high level science concepts in a lab. XR allows students the opportunity to passively experience, actively interact with, and imaginatively create. They've entered an environment where escaping the time and place of the present is the goal, so theories are no longer fantasy and hard to visualize, but so real you can touch them. They are in a place where failure is an option - where they can take risks and learn their way to success. It was Nelson Mandela who said, "I never lose. I either win or learn." There's plenty of both happening in Unbound Innovations XR class.