When experiencing or learning a new technology for the classroom, the first questions that come to mind for me include:
Why would I use this technology?
How does it make my students, better, faster, smarter?
Does this make life easier for me or the students or are there more obstacles than value for learning?
Would a more low-tech answer still get the same results?
Does the new technology engage all of the senses?
Is the technology just a "fancy pencil" or does it deepen learning or interaction?
If students use this technology, how will it change the interaction with the material?
What new paths will open up by using this technology?
Will student use of this technology better prepare them for their futures in college or career or is the technology becoming obsolete?
Will this new technology last and be adopted by others out in the world or is it a passing phase?
Virtual Reality: TPACK Game Changer or Passing Phase?
Recently, my high tech-hubby bought an HTC Vive, for business purposes. But, we've been having great fun putting it through it's paces and trying all the games that are currently available for the headset including a 3D painting program, a Myst-like puzzle game, a bow-and-arrow game, some shooter games and a fun game where you shield yourself from spheres of light as you rock out to the music. It's all a LOT of fun.
I have to wonder, though. Is this where education is heading? Are we going to wind up like the characters in Ready, Player, One, where the teachers are virtual, the students go to a virtual school and they take virtual field trips, all through their VR headsets? It's all going to depend on whether or not the audience for VR can grow past the current projected figures of 300,000 - 500,000 for this year.
Learning in a VR environment would certainly change every item in the TPACK model, from pedagogy, to content and knowledge to the very context in which learning happens.
I see so many possible applications for the VR headsets, but as of now, wearing the devices can only be done for short periods of time, (it gets sweaty) and it's not a social thing yet. You are using the device alone, moving through spaces alone and interacting with computer generated entities alone.
But I could see teaching people all about certain body movements through VR. It's the old wax-on, wax-off approach. Want to learn martial arts? Bat away a ton of sparkling balls of light in the right way, and you will soon have the muscle memory for defending yourself with out-blocks and in-blocks. Want to work out your body to increase muscle tone? What if you played a game that took you through an entire work out while you played.
In teaching more academic content, want to learn about Mars? Why not go there? Why not orbit for a while before landing on the surface to explore? Learning about history? Go visit the Palace of Versaille or a Medieval Castle, or better yet, live like a serf or a courtier. Fully immersive technology, if it does catch on, will completely change what, where and how we teach. Whether it's Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality, if the technology progresses and is adopted, the future of our classrooms will be totally different than the way they are now.
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!