Do you ever stand up to go somewhere, walk over and then wonder why you’re there? Happens to me all the time — wait, that doesn’t sound very reassuring. It happens to me some times.
Often walking back to where I came from to trigger the thought that made me leave in the first place.
Doesn’t really leave one with a strong feeling of confidence in my abilities now, does it?
But, if you’re being honest with yourself I bet it happens to you as well.
What is it about our memory that makes some stuff ‘stick’ and other stuff appear to vanish? Looking back to my 20s I can still recall studying for university exams … reading a section of a text book … then reading it again … and again … all to no avail. That page of information just wasn’t going to stay in my head.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are slowly making their way into schools. Depending on the quality of the needed device a VR headset can be a few dollars (i.e. cardboard cutout that uses your smartphone) or a very expensive one costing hundreds of dollars per unit. AR headsets can be just as expensive.
I’m admittedly a bit cautious when new tech is touted as the next ‘best thing’ for education. Are these headsets just a gimmick with lots of fun entertainment value or are they really a way for students to actually go deeper with their learning?
Like most everything, I suppose it depends on how and why you use them.
We’ve all been to school. Look at me — I’ve never left. So, we all think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s supposed to happen there.
Let’s review …
One of the historical goals of schools has been to provide students with enough knowledge of ‘stuff’ and ‘skills’ to be productive citizens once they graduate. To achieve this, students have historically been ‘consumers’ of information or content — they learned from the ‘knowledge keepers’ — our teachers. As curriculum evolved, new courses were created, teachers learned the content and then imparted this knowledge. Sort of the ‘sage on the stage’ kind of process. It was pretty much a unidirectional mode of information transfer.
In today’s world, there is still a need for a content expert who knows ‘stuff’ — a teacher who’s been to post-secondary and become a subject area or learning specialist. This need won’t change anytime soon — teachers continue to be an absolutely critical component of student success.
But times are changing …
In today’s world the role of the teacher IS fundamentally changing. Content is ubiquitous — we can find it just about anywhere on the internet in a virtual space accessible by a few clicks on your smartphone or a verbal question to SIRI. Content no longer resides solely in the domain of the teacher. In fact, students are often far better content masters than their teachers on any number of topics.
So, what does this mean for the traditional learning paradigm?