What was it like when you were in school? Did you repeat lines in unison with the class? Did you write with a pen, pencil and paper? Did you use a desktop computer at school, or did you bring your own laptop? The other day I was reading a book on copy from some of the best advertisers, who marveled at how times have changed. Words are becoming less important and images are dominating our field of view. The writer was amazed at the ability to reorganize text on a digital page, to be able to erase entire sections, and even to move paragraphs around just like that. While we typically don’t have time for longform content anymore, I do hope there is a small exception made in this case.
VR and AR in education is enabling us to relearn how to capture information and experiences in a way that is natural and memorable. It can provide context to text, an anchor to instruction, and a visual demonstration of technical procedures. It can be interactive, and take us to places that would otherwise be inaccessible. At VR Days we explore these movements in education, and how it is introducing the power of VR and AR to the next generation.
The Overview Effect
There are very few who have had the privilege of looking over the Earth from space. With lots of hard work, a great deal of education, science and rocketfuel, our astronauts have had the chance to pause during spaceflight to look back on their homeland. From space, Earth isn’t the giant and powerful physical structure we experience here with two feet on the ground. It appears to be tiny, fragile, and clinging to life with a paper-thin atmosphere. National boundaries vanish and the need to unite to protect our home emerges as the most important race that we could achieve. Max Louwerse, Professor of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, is one of the individuals involved in the activities of SpaceBuzz, a non-profit educational foundation inspired by the Overview Effect. The aim? To enable children to experience the same effect, in VR. Perhaps this is one of the most important lessons to learn, as with today’s technology, we cannot survive without the Earth.
Technology will also change the face of our planet. In Los Angeles, the images of the downtown area and Westwood 20 years ago would have yet to undergo large amounts of construction. Even now, skyscrapers in our cities seem to raise towards the sky year after year. At the University of Amsterdam, CREATE researchers have a mission- to capture the last 5000 years of the history of the city in VR. At Google Earth, the team has developed a similar image, to capture the here and now, and the past and possible futures, and to share this with students across the globe. With the Expeditions App, students are no longer limited by the space of the classroom and can explore the world in VR, with AR to bring abstract concepts to life. Not limited to time and place, the Expeditions App enables students to explore history, science, the arts, and the natural world. At VR Days Europe, meet Rupert Brenehy, UX Design for Google Earth, speaking in the XR and Education Session.
At Facebook, Monica Arés is the lead of innovative technology for education. As a former educator of ten years, she is of the view that VR is the next step in the natural evolution of computer based instruction. At Facebook, they are developing industry-leading content, virtual collaboration, and creation tools to pioneer this movement. VR has the power to transform education and turn classrooms into 21st-century technologically advanced places of learning. The technology and content will not only increase engagement and knowledge retention, it will also allow students to get equitable access to education regardless of distance and turn students into innovative creators. While it is our generation that has built the technology, the next generation will take it further than we can imagine today.
XR and Education
The way we naturally interact with the world is in a 3D space. The way we think is very abstract in comparison to this input output system where we type our communications one letter at a time. Or, are you at the point where you speak to your digital assistant and use touchscreen interfaces? Take even 10 seconds to capture your thought process. Does it come in scrolling images and phrases like our social media feeds and screens? Are your thoughts lovely typed phrases? Linear narratives? Focused? How can we use VR and AR to enhance our thought processes, develop memory and recall, and revolutionize the way we learn as an experience? At VR Days, we will learn about the future of education from the elementary classroom, to hospitals, training and simulation, and of course, how this is changing our understanding of the world around us.