Immersive Learning Environments in Disruptive Education Ecosystems

We live in times of complete uncertainty. The world, had never faced a similar situation as we have today. Where there are too many questions in the air, still waiting for the correct answer, if there is any.

During this last months, I have got the perception that we were trying to hide ourselves into an increasingly virtualized world, behind decomposed avatars, robots or new small particles into a new virtual scenario as part of this new reality. Losing the control of our free brain activity, dominated for external unknown forces, as part of a live experiment drive by some kind of superior intelligence. But with some common feelings…the lack of affection, recognition, and human touch.

In this new world, governments face heedlessly to the new academic year, terrified of a new outbreak that will leave the system naked again, yes, let’s contribute something earthly. Let’s say things by their name, since, after several months of uncertainty, the capacity to anticipate, prepare for this new scenario has been nil and we continue to learn from the mistakes of the recent past.

There are no longer shortcuts, online paths traveled by elements devoid of the minimum preparation to face these new challenges in today’s society.

Today I lost my avatar and I believe that there is only one possible path, towards the digital transformation in Education, from a completely disruptive and non-evolutionary approach. Since there is no time for it and these generations will not allow it.

Do we want to be remembered as responsible? Or guilty?

ILE Episode I

Why do we want Immersive Learning Environments? Is it a new fad? is it a trend in education? does it really add value? is there proven evidence? Not it is not new, but what do we want it for.

  • Create immersive spaces in the image and likeness of real existing classroom spaces, but that adapt to different subjects.? Where classes are taught with immersive Caves / HDMI devices, etc.
  • Create a universal space, accessible by the entire educational community, both inside and outside the classroom, where to share experiences, activities, projects … etc.
  • Develop a learning methodology, where virtual spaces are recreated, with scenes adapted to the contexts and where students actively participate as members of the group. Customizing to your image and likeness? Future open worlds? Contributing your vision of the new virtual classroom?
  • Turn the classroom into an inspiring experience, each and every day of the year.? Are we ready for it?
  • Convert the workshops into creative, interactive and inspiring spaces, where students learn from good practices and develop their skills beyond their limitations?
  • Create multiverse spaces, where futuristic experiences are created, anticipating solutions to the world of the future? From the lessons learned from the past and through the use of new technologies? What would have become of … if we had acted …?
  • Imagine spaces that are transformed and adapted depending on the needs, the context, the problem … simulating unforeseen situations and seeing how the students react.
  • Learn from the silence, the stones, the walls, the art of the works hidden in the walls of history and understand the reason for the evolution of things, the need and the use of inventions … in contexts adapted to time

ILE Episode II

To answer this, we must be aware of the need to know in depth the content creation tools and apply them effectively and adapted to the visualization system that we are going to use.

You have to define the ecosystem in which you are going to work and establish the rules of sustainability, inclusion, ethics, content, accessibility, usability, etc … for which proper training and development of certain skills is required, as well as the acceptance of the rules by all members of the community.

For this, it is necessary to create a multidisciplinary, competent team led by people capable of successfully carrying out the project in a consensual and satisfactory way. Let us not forget, it is only the basis of the scheme on which we are going to contribute the contents and experiences during the course.

The challenge is to establish a new learning environment, more motivating, creative, where the curriculum is reflected and has room for creative thinking, the creation of projects and a new, more practical vision of science, for example, without losing theoretical understanding. Thanks to the immersion, the global and graphic vision of things, greatly facilitate the understanding and learning of the subjects. By providing and facilitating a culture of hands-on experiences, students gradually become more curious and active in their own learning, problem solving, developing communication skills with peers, and cultivating sustained shared thinking.

Putting an immersive learning environment in place requires extra effort, strong team commitment, and lots of creativity. Since we will have to plan extra actions, additional to the daily tasks, and in these we must include the students, since their involvement is key to the acceptance and commitment of the project. Apart from being enriching and providing a very enriching vision to the project.

The design of these environments is not trivial, and should be part of the instructional design of the subjects or topics that we are going to deal with in them. The inclusive environment, cultural, interdisciplinary, ethical issues, etc… must be treated appropriately, avoiding repetitive topics and spaces. Let us broaden our sights and our imagination.

The immersive environments must be made up of different scenarios, which in turn will have content where things happen. The idea is to transport students, teachers, and parents to a new world, in which the presentation of the activity is triggered sequentially, the development of it, discussion, exploration, discovery and contemplation before they reflect on their own thinking.

Immersive Learning pedagogy uses the environment and the surrounding settings as a stimulus to enhance students’ senses and bring exciting experiences to life. Getting a true immersive transportation effect. The adaptation of the classrooms according to these initiatives is essential, since it helps the previous immersion phase and more easily enter the context where the experiences will take place.

All this new training process affects the learning methodology, which must be adapted to the new procedure. Teamwork, identifying the problem, analyzing it, designing a solution, developing it and presenting it are some of the activities that should be evaluated. For which, we must have adequate devices and means in a healthy and shared environment. The opportunity to record these experiences with 360 cameras and visualize them in the sharing of projects is another essential tool, which must be incorporated into the project. This allows learning from mistakes and improving processes, both learning and implementation.

Finally, this last cycle or stage of implementation and start-up, will require the implementation of indicators, which allow us to evaluate the reflective cycle, where students’ ideas are specified and places learning in context, helping them to achieve an understanding. deeper part of the learning process.

Teachers must acquire a new role, more of entrepreneurs, being the facilitators who must provide opportunities to develop higher level thinking and increase the capacity of their students to take more control over their own learning and achievements.

Immersive learning pedagogy can be time consuming and strenuous for educators; however, the benefits are incredible and many more have yet to be demonstrated.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in implementing immersive learning environments in common areas is the consensus building it requires between faculty and administration.

ILE Episode III

Over the last few years, I have been launching an initiative around the enhancement of the cultural heritage of spaces of high historical value. Magical and Mystery Tour around Cultural Heritage.

An initiative based on Immersive Learning Spaces in VR and XR. Where the integration of technologies facilitates the contextualization of the subjects and the compression of actions that interrelate in a physical space. The virtual reconstruction of a city, its evolution over different periods of history, its architecture, culture, society, the development of industries, its evolution over time to the present day, allows us to have all data to facilitate understanding and learning of different subjects in a global environment.

Until now it was materially impossible to do it interactively and allowing the student visitor to live the experience in the first person, managing time, discovering the learning itself and identifying and emphasizing those subjects that most attract or are of interest to them.

A journey through the senses, which allows applying all the required knowledge spaces, transforming the classroom into a living and interactive experience, and in turn, designing, creating and building learning spaces in a simple, visual and immersive way.

During more than 20 years dedicated to technologies and innovation in education, I have had the immense luck of being able to participate in projects of great impact in different countries, publishers and organizations. That have allowed me to continue learning permanently and to be able to share these experiences and parentings until today with the educational community.

For all this I feel very lucky and I want to thank all these travel colleagues, many of them anonymous but with a lot of passion and love for education, their collaboration, participation and ongoing support.

Written for OEB20 by Carlos J. Ochoa, Global Co-Chair VR/ARA Education Committee.

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