Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (Clarke Foundations, 2015). Virtual reality is one of those concepts that can suspend belief, like magic. Virtual reality has the ability to transform an experience, and this is where it is poised to broaden the educational experience. The strength of virtual reality is the ability to immerse the individual. While distance learning allows students to connect across large spaces, there is little interaction that is physical, VR can change this. In a traditional classroom, a student can ask a question, talk with a neighbor, or offer feedback. Distance learning students can perform these tasks, but not in real time, and often without social interaction. One possibility of virtual reality could be an avatar with video and voice capabilities that would mimic the professor. The virtual classroom could provide the emotional stimulation that is often missing from an online classroom.
Virtual reality holds much promise for the future; it opens the door to new possibilities in industries such as health care, military, and the scientific fields to name a few. Although the field of education often embraces new technologies, with virtual reality, it has been slow to catch on. Some of the problems with using virtual reality are cost, technical limitations, and the lack of desire to change traditional educational models. As technology improves and virtual reality becomes mainstream, the gap between novelty and commonplace will close.
Arthur C. Clarke Foundation. (2015). Sir Arthur’s quotations. Retrieved from
What is the one learning tool that stands out above all others? For me, it’s the smartphone. With all the different educational tools to choose from - iPads, Chromebooks, Surface Pros, laptops, I chose the smartphone because it is a product for everyman. You can learn a language, watch a tutorial, read a book, study art, make a movie, learn calculus, publish an e-book, research a topic, all on your smartphone.
As more schools opt for BYOD, smartphones have become an obvious technology tool. While monitoring of smartphones in a school environment is necessary, consider schools with “best practices.” In North Carolina, the Onslow County School District adopted the use of smartphones in the classroom. “Project K-Nect is designed to create a supplemental resource for secondary at-risk students to focus on increasing their math skills through a common and popular technology – mobile smartphones. Ninth graders in several public schools in the State of North Carolina received smartphones to access supplemental math content aligned with their teachers’ lesson plans and course objectives. Students communicate and collaborate with each other and access tutors outside of the school day to help them master math skills and knowledge. The smartphones and service are free of charge to the students and their schools due to a grant provided by Qualcomm, as part of its Wireless Reach™ initiative.” No other product has revolutionized the technology market quite like the smartphone.