As I reimagine the field of education I can't help but think that this not as much of a reimagining but an acceptance. The picture of education as it was during industrialization is no longer appropriate in a world where assembly lines can be automated; the ability to innovate becomes more valuable. As I mentioned in my last article, educational technology developed in the last decade and on the fringe of adoption for those years has been thrown into the limelight during the COVID-19 quarantine and educators who have been resistant to learning the new technologies found themselves in a situation where they had to try to catch up quickly.
So many educational technologies have sat, gathering dust on the Horizon Report future trends list that it’s hard for educators without a technical background to see the variety of resources and pedagogies available now. Adaptive educational resources like Inq-ITS and ASSISTments personalize learning experiences for the individual learner. No more do teachers need to drown in a class of 28 students who all learn in different ways and at different paces. Adaptive resources typically provide teachers with invaluable information about their students learning processes so that they educator can continue to guide and provide necessary resources to supplement what challenges them. However, as we saw at the start of the pandemic closedown, catching up with the current technologies can be stressful if you haven't been keeping up.
This all goes back to lifelong learning. All too often individuals get attached to information they learned before all of the facts were in or from a non-expert. It is human nature to become attached to information you were told when a topic was new in your brain. In neuroscience and psychology, this is referred to an anchoring bias. According to neuroscience, this is because in an effort to conserve resources, the brain takes many "shortcuts" in order to quickly reconcile new information. After the brain encounters new information and considers all possible interpretations and consequences, it can be considered redundant to go through that same thought process every time that same information is encountered. So the brain creates a shortcut assuming that the information it has encountered and the meanings that information was interpreted as containing currently has is accurate That's what leads to the dreaded confirmation bias. When an individual begins research to confirm their previously held beliefs they will typically be successful since their previous bias serves as lens in which the individual interprets the research. Ever talk about an article you read with someone and wonder if you were even reading the same article since your interpretations were so different? That's because of confirmation bias. In research, we aim to disprove possible hypotheses as opposed to prove one.
What we need to reimagine is the structure of the school day for student in various phases of their K-12 journey. We need to rethink how to have less students in a classroom so that we can adhere to social distancing guidelines, but a good student to teacher ratio has always been desirable and a change educators have requested for at least a decade.
To me, reimagining education in a socially distanced way, means that we are using spatial computing to educate. Immersive educational resources like Augmented Reality (AR), for example Google’s new embedded AR, can be used to engage and educate from a distance, while Virtual Reality (VR), especially social VR programs, can be used to combat the mental effects and isolation involved in social distancing and quarantining. For example, Mozilla Hubs is a free resource to make social VR rooms which can be shared at the click of a button and on any device which makes it ideal for distance learning and apps like Spatial, Rumii and EngageVR enables educators to run their own virtual classroom and AltspaceVR has events including mindfulness training with EvolVR (for VR headsets and 2D on PC). In fact, recently I attended a few presentations conducted about the use of VR in Demark schools which to me, is what education in 2020 should look like. Students use avatars in class where teachers can use presentations, interactive elements and 3D animated models. Using avatars can be helpful for anxious students and to help students to feel comfortable as they are in control of their appearance. Want to teach students about deep sea hydrothermal vents? Bring them there! Teaching students about an ancient civilization? Bring them there! VR can be used to teach things that were too costly or dangerous to bring into the classroom before.