Virtual Reality–VR–is the 2018 buzzword among students, teachers, and even parents. And rightfully deserved, VR has the ability to recreate so many of the rules that used to shape education. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Sara Stringer, shares her opinion on the key factors that could affect the importance of VR to education:
Opinion: How VR Will Impact Student Education
Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting new concept that continues to shape how users see the world around them. It’s one of the few technologies that inspires students who have never known life without smartphones and the internet.
The learning potential of VR is incredible. It offers new ways to inspire and engage students and will undoubtedly have a greater presence in education as the technology becomes more available. In particular, students who are enrolled in online charter schools can greatly benefit from these technological advances. However, to really predict the prevalence of virtual reality in the future of education, we have to take a look at three key factors.
One of the things that makes VR so universal is its ease of use for students of all ages.
Younger students—preschool to early elementary—typically learn through experience. Putting them into immersive environments can complement the learning they’re doing at home or in the classroom and extend their understanding of new concepts and ideas. Through VR, they can visit far-off places, see dinosaurs walk the earth, and observe wildlife in their natural habitats.
VR gives students more contextual information to what they’re learning. Reading or watching videos about the tides is one thing; being submerged in the ocean to witness the influence they have on sea life is another. It can also unlock students’ potential and keep them engaged no matter what subject they’re learning. They can gain new perspectives on the people, places, cultures, and subjects they’re studying. More complex subjects, like anatomy, can come to life for older students. Not only can they virtually visit a lab, but they can hold a heart in their hand.
All around the country, schools are turning around education through the use of technology. Here are two, one in Hawaii and one in California that show you steps that might work for you:
[caption id="attachment_59609" align="alignright" width="300"] Kalakaua Middle School leadership team gets into the spirit to boost positive behavior.[/caption]
King David Kalakaua MS, Hawaii
When innovative school leaders decided to try a new technology program at King David Kalakaua Middle School this year, they hoped recognizing students’ good behavior would lessen their bad behavior. Their goal was to improve school climate and build positive relationships with everyone on campus by focusing on the positive. In less than six months, not only have they met that goal, but they also changed their peer’s perception of “trouble” students and helped boost grades.
“We feel like it’s had a major impact on students,” says MTSS Coordinator, Tiana Kamiko. She spearheaded the program with her fellow Behavioral Health Specialist Kristen Shimabukuro. “The campus itself feels happier. The kids are smiling more. Just the other day, we had a student telling Kristen that we’re part of the reason he likes to come to school now.”
The idea of rewarding students for positive behavior has a long history in schools, and numerous studies have shown the practice can improve student behavior, reduce suspensions, and even boost student achievement. It is, however, unusual for a school to see such a large jump in so many categories so quickly.
This topic that is close to my tech teacher soul. It has become a familiar argument between those who believe children intuitively learn to type (“see them on smartphones and iPads–they don’t need help”) and those of us who believe instruction makes them better, faster. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, James Lovelock, discusses this:
Explicit typing, simulated application and practical application – Why is this not a thing?
When it comes to education, there has always been a call for approaches that are more grounded in context. For example, you could just look at a map and do some measurements, or you can get out there with a trusty surveyor’s wheel and chart a space and learn real applications. It makes perfect sense to do this, practical application proves relevance and also allows for greater engagement.
Having said that, one would not do this without first explaining the concepts and practicing the basics of measurement. Yet all too often, when it comes to touch-typing that is exactly what occurs, students are expected to just ‘pick it up’ as they go along because the work required to develop the skill correctly can be viewed as “unnecessary,” “too time-consuming,” or “artificial learning.”
It’s becoming more common to take online classes or blend traditional with online learning. Ila Mishra, a specialist in both LMS and virtual classrooms, has this informative explanation of how teachers can increase their social learning while teaching online classes:
Social Learning is defined as learning through observing behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. These help individuals to create a frame of reference of behaviors within themselves and prompt them to act. The main point of this theory is that social learning attributes human behavior to be an outcome of cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences (Bandura, 1977).
These cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences are:
Traditional classrooms were a conduit for social learning where students could sit together and collaborate on projects, group assignments, or make use of peer-to-peer learning opportunities. However, in the current educational environments where technology is used to enhance learning outcomes, educators have consciously allowed for and are making use of technology to facilitate learning online.
Summer can be a challenging time not just for parents but kids. They are accustomed to cerebral challenges that keep them motivated and summer arrives with its sports, naps, and vacations. If your kids miss the thrill of problem-solving or if you worry about them sliding backward without the mental exercise that is integral to school, ORIGO has come up with seven fun math activities that use a blend of popular math apps and everyday activities (like cooking) to fill the summer break with the excitement of math:
Seven Fun Math Activities for the Summer Break
The long weeks of summer break are wonderful for family time and vacations, but not so wonderful at keeping students on a positive learning curve. The Summer Slide is a very real issue, especially in mathematics instruction where students lose about one month of learning during the break and in some cases, 2.6 months of learning.
Jennifer Lockman, a journalism major at UCLA, contacted me about her thoughts on how technology has changed the way she and other professionals write. It’s been a while since I was in college so I am excited to share her ideas with you:
Technology has definitely changed the art of writing and the means we can use to get our points across. Not so long ago everything involved handwriting (and then typing) a draft, spending hours on revision and proofreading, and eventually submitting a finished text to an editor’s red pen. Thus, doing this kind of work well still takes skills, talent, and perseverance. Luckily for us due to the evolution of technology, everyone with an Android device or access to the internet can get the help needed to write and polish a paper. Whether you’re writing a college paper or the next Great American Novel, there are multiple apps available to help you with the entire process.
Here’s a fascinating article by Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, James Lovelock, discussing the balance between rote drills and integrated learning in teaching keyboarding:
As a pre-service teacher, I have always found the arguments around different forms of teaching and learning to be highly frustrating. Authoritative and Egalitarian models of teaching are considered superior to Authoritarian even though we know that in some cases the Authoritarian approach may be the best due to factors such as cultural expectations or simply the context of a classroom. Likewise, when it comes to learning, while Integrated Learning is certainly the preference there are times when Rote Learning is appropriate to implement.
It is at this point most educators look at me like I have just said the moon is made of cheese. Rote Learning has become a bit of a dirty phrase in some circles, right up there with corporal punishment as a throwback to an older era of unenlightened education. Rote Learning lacks authentic application and therefore lacks engagement and fails to root student learning in real life applications.
By itself, I’d wholeheartedly agree that Rote Learning in isolation is a weak form of instruction. Having said that, Integrated Learning by itself has its own pitfalls. Take a class of thirty students, tell them they are going to learn how to type only by using it in searches on google and creating reports in Microsoft Office. Students who have already learned how to touch-type at home (like I did in the early 90s) possess significant advantages over students who did not learn to touch-type outside of class and particularly over students who have limited access to computers outside of school.
There’s a lot of chatter about PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) on educator forums I participate in. I don’t have direct experience with it so I jumped at the chance to share Middle School teacher Karessa Parish’s experiences. In this article, she explains what PBIS is, lessons learned rolling it out, and a tool called Hero that helped make it happen in her school:
Studies show that students need a ratio of about five positive interactions to every negative. Up until a year and a half ago, our campus had this ratio all wrong. It seemed like we were giving five negatives for every positive. Our teachers were spending more time on a small percentage of the students who were having trouble or who were making trouble. We were spending 80 percent of our time focusing on 20 percent of our students, who were the ones with behavior issues. But that means 80 percent of our students were excellent and weren’t getting the recognition that they deserve. The result was that the vast majority of our students — students who were doing the right thing — were getting little positive attention from our faculty. We decided to refocus our attention to be intentional in recognizing positive everyday occurrences that had been overlooked for too long and we picked Hero to help us do this.
We wanted to flip the culture at our school. We had two objectives when we created our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and started using Hero:
- Motivate the students who weren’t following expectations
- Celebrate the kids who were doing what they were supposed to be doing
Hero helps teachers and administrators monitor all forms of student behavior, both good and bad. Using any web browser or an Android or iOS device, teachers and administrators can capture student behavior where and when it happens, keep accurate attendance records, and assign warnings and consequences (or rewards for positive behavior) automatically. We have customized the software with specific behaviors, incentives, and interventions. Our students can track how many points they have accumulated through the Hero app, and they can redeem their points in the school store. We have a variety of incentives ranging from mystery brown bags with three or four trinkets in them to earbuds and t-shirts. We also host parties like student vs. teacher basketball games, Powder Puff games and time on the athletic field with snow cones. These parties are hosted every six weeks that students can use their Hero points to attend.
In 2015, Idaho adopted an open-enrollment policy allowing families to send students to their school of choice. Despite being a Title I District, Coeur d’Alene established itself as one of the most outstanding districts in the state. School leaders credit a multi-faceted senior writing project, new curricula, and instructional technology for bringing new students to their doors.
This is Coeur d’Alene’s story–how they recognized a need to improve student writing skills and effectively addressed it:
Tucked just north of the Spokane River, along the western side of the panhandle, lies Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Nine out of 17 schools in the Coeur d’Alene School District (CdA) receive Title I Funding, and according to the 2016 National Education Association survey, Idaho ranks last in per-pupil spending and 47th in the nation for average teacher salary.
In 2015, Idaho passed a state-wide open enrollment law that allows parents to send children to their school of choice. This was good for families, but given the many challenges Coeur d’Alene faced daily, the policy had the potential to greatly affect matriculation throughout the district. CdA Administrators, however, felt that open enrollment could be an important driver of change while also giving parents the ability to choose the best school for their needs.
“We’re not utopia, we have a lot of challenges,”
explained Mike Nelson, the Director of Curricula and Assessments in the Coeur d’Alene Public School District, “but at the same time, we knew a few key changes would be of benefit to all.”
Here’s an interesting article on what tech may go away by 2019. This is from Steven Wesley, guest blogger for Ask a Tech Teacher and ESL teacher, with intimate knowledge of tech used in the classroom. I think you’ll enjoy his thoughts:
Technology has permeated every pore of our lives today, and education has been no exception. There are so many useful educational tools and apps out there which can help teachers connect with their students in a much better way. With all the techs available, there has been a debate whether schools as we know them, as well as the role of a teacher, will become obsolete. While the latter is not going to take place, some shifts in education are bound to happen with old technologies giving way to new. Let’s see which ones won’t make it in 2018.
- Desktop Computers
Today, smartphones and tablets are cheaper than ever; moreover, their prices are going to decrease which means that desktop computers, as well as computer labs, are about to become extinct in schools. As a teacher, it will save me plenty of time, because I won’t have to deal with lots of login information due to many students using the same computer. With each student having their own smartphone or tablet and Wi-Fi present in every school, they can log in and receive a more customized learning experience. The same thing will happen to laptops.
- On-Premise Software
According to James Hutton, an IT specialist for Essay On Time, on-premise software will be on its way out after 2018:
“On-premises software requires teachers to install the same software on each computer inside the computer room, which is incredibly time-consuming. Another downside of this is that students can’t use the software while they are at home in case they need more time with it. It will be replaced by software that is installed inside the cloud and all students will have to do is log in and use the application at any given moment.”