We’ve reached an exciting inflection point in education technology.
Technology has advanced to a state in which watching TV from inside the scene, planning a renovation with virtual furniture, and capturing Pokemon that hide in your backyard have all gone from dreams to realizations.
In the same innovative vein, new teaching methodologies such as the flipped classroom and crossover learning are evolving the way we think about shaping future minds.
There is excitement in the unknown, and the education world wonders – what it will take to maximize the leap forward when the innovations from education, and virtual & augmented reality combine?
Setting the stage for education’s future
A growing snowball of factors – including the cloud, machine learning, smartphones, tablets, wireless internet, and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in both higher ed and K-12 – have brought us to the brink of combining the innovations from pedagogy and interactive technology.
There’s a very human side to this as well: the impact of the millennial generation. Today’s (and tomorrow’s) learners don’t know a world without at least one personal computer in every home, every classroom, and every pocket. Not only do millennials have a high affinity for technology, but the way they interact with it is another layer still. What we see now is an emerging learning style that favours information on-demand, personalization, and immediate feedback.
Through my company LlamaZOO, I have become particularly interested in a few key areas of the current educational technology (edtech) ecosystem: interactive 3D, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and breakthrough learning methodologies. On a daily basis we ask and pursue answers for how these three areas can work together to positively evolve the teacher-learner experience. I’m of the opinion (one that is shared by many) that these are key, but distinct pillars for future learners, and that each must work together in order to become truly ubiquitous in the classrooms and lecture halls of the future.
Connecting with learners on a personal level with interactive 3D
Textbooks and diagrams have served education well for many purposes, but they also leave potential knowledge on the table.
Imagine needing to study subject matter with spatially complex relationships (such as dentistry students trying to grasp the shape of a tooth, veterinary students struggling to learn how one muscles overlaps another, or budding chemists desperate to comprehend organic compounds), while having to rely on flat, two dimensional images in a textbook to do so. The frustrations felt by students of these subjects flood Facebook groups, student forums, and professor office hours worldwide. 3D visualization has been demonstrated to more effectively transform images previously on a page into firmly retained knowledge in the mind, and adding interactive elements to 3D content is the next leap forward.
While you can’t simply instruct a student to enter a flow state, you can create an environment that is more conducive to achieving such a state of full immersion, focus, and enjoyment – and interactive 3D is ideal for just that. By reducing external distractions and requiring learners to engage with the content, interactive 3D fosters deep concentration and enables hands-on activity; two of the key elements for entering flow.
On top of this, the majority of learners are visual. 3D provides a new dimension of visualization possibilities, and layering on simulation and interactive elements serves to further personalize the learning experience, increasing engagement and improving retention. Interactive 3D learning tools also leverage just-in-time and blended learning, by enabling students to explore and experiment anytime, anywhere.
3D interactive tools and technologies bring educational content one (or many) step closer to real life – something that is becoming increasingly achievable with the aid of VR and AR.
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This post is the first in a two-part series on “Stacking the Building Blocks of Education’s Future”. Next week, part two will focus on how augmented reality and virtual reality technologies can add an immersive layer to interactive 3D.
Visit our blog to read more articles focused on VR, AR, and surrounding technologies.