Your turn to change the world Pt. 2

Your Turn to change the world pt. 2

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Many of you may already know the acronym RIDE that was developed by Derek Belch of StriVR. What RIDE helps us remember is

Quarterback Training built by StriVR for NFL and College football.

that good VR content comes from something that is Rare, Impossible, Dangerous, and/or Expensive to experience. When my classes evaluate VR experiences, we would think about RIDE as we looked at what the experience itself provided. The good ones usually had one or more aspects of RIDE running through them. However, right now, that RIDE acronym finds a place outside of VR. It is rare, impossible, dangerous, or expensive for many of us to do much outside of keeping ourselves safe and healthy in one place. We need VR to have more natural experiences that a flat video screen is not giving us.

Forbes, USA Today, Psychology Today, and the WSJ (as well as many others) have pointed out our hard time existing on video conferences, especially when we are trying to decode body cues from multiple windows and keep our focus while working in the same space we live. Context is where I see many students and teachers begin to check out. You might begin your day talking to your relatives, then to students, then friends you would normally video chat with due to distance, and it may have felt oddly draining. Then, other contextual oddities start to pop up. You’re at home, so why not pop over to the bathroom real quick during a meeting since you can turn off your camera? Why wouldn’t you do this, you’re probably at home? The mix of familiarity with outside responsibility can cause dissonance that often promotes frustration.

Zoom with everyone talking at once.

Personally, I felt more tied to my desk and more detached from others when working through video meetings. That lack of context for interactions is causing stress amongst people as well. Gianpiero Petriglieri is an associate professor at Insead that researches workplace learning and development. Petriglieri offers, “Most of our social roles happen in different places, but now the context has collapsed.”

We are having to change that context in our minds instead of having it changed around us. That contextual change is not available to us in video chats as Petriglieri continues.

“Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. Our minds are together when our bodies feel we're not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” Petriglieri stated.

That lack of context for educators and learners can create a wall for direct teaching. Most direct teaching is collaboration or guided interaction. If you’re working through examples on a board as the students follow along with you, I wouldn’t consider that direct teaching. Those aspects of a lesson could be flipped into a video or even just workbook assignments that can be handled outside of class without the teacher’s presence. Direct teaching requires an instructor to debug issues with students. You are working through their misunderstandings so that you can unravel their little tangle of Christmas lights that are keeping them from moving forward. This is where VR direct teaching shines against video chats. Since VR allows us to socially arrange, posture, and speak as we would naturally, we are able to operate with a much smaller disconnect.

“And since the buildings were just pieces of software, their design wasn’t limited by monetary constraints, or even by the laws of physics. So every school was a grand palace of learning, with polished marble hallways, cathedral-like classrooms, zero-g gymnasiums, and virtual libraries containing every (school board–approved) book ever written.” - “Ready Player ONE” Ernest Cline pgs 31-32

Future VR schools taught by real and ideal STEM legends. Here showing Leonardo Da Vinci, Tony Stark, and Hedy Lamarr

In “Ready Player ONE” when the O.A.S.I.S. comes online, it provides free school for everyone in a massive VR online community. The O.A.S.I.S. also provided a medium for creating context that was previously out of the hands of 99% of people in the world. As teachers, we know there are districts that get to do some amazing things because the bonds and tax brackets of the citizenry allow for a more robust educational experience than other places. VR can bring that same top tier experience to everyone without the issues of location.

VR can give us a level playing field for every student, a more natural way to connect at a distance, we can curate the context for every individual, we can cultivate personalized learning in a way never truly available before. We can be anywhere acting as any element of an experience when our classes are in VR. We can create a never-ending amount of digital content allowing students and teachers to own their “classroom” and make an experiential learning space that puts them in the “thick of the action”.

Here’s the thing, I talk to educators of every stratum and when I get to demo VR for them I get a few different reactions. Often they think it is amazing where the tech is and how we can get a great experience for the same cost as a chrome book or iPad. I’ll get a few that automatically lock-up at the thought of trying to get funds. Then others look up and dream a bit about how they could use it in their classroom. I can often offer them some ideas of how they could make that happen and they might entertain the idea over a little conversation.

Then, I’ll see them shake their heads. I know why they do that. They look back at their myriad of responsibilities, their special cases they want to help, the training they have to go through, parents they need to contact, figuring out where the money will come from and that all comes together for the day time workload, we haven’t even talked about what happens when you go home. I know the workload. I’ve had stretches of 5 to 6 different preps and then new students come in or leave; the whole thing gets turned upside down at least once a month. There’s quite a bit that goes into the regular day and night of a teacher. So asking a teacher to take on something new, that they may really enjoy, and add it to their curriculum will need help.

I can tell you that today any subjects can be taught through self-authored content in VR and then hybridized to include studio created VR content with your own. Varsity VR is working on woven experiences with students and we're developing some example classes for teachers to pull from.

Image from page 255 of "The underground railroad" From the internet archive

In one experience students can interact with linear equations as they repair a faulty power grid for a town. Then they bring their historical research to build a depiction of slaves escaping with the help of the underground railroad escape. Students would script the experience, produce logic for environmental interactions, create massive sets and costumes with 3D modeling, and digitally produce all the elements that will bring the experience to life. An entire class could dissect a gigantic frog so every organ is easy to identify and just for fun, turn it into a Double Dare style game show. Then for an assessment teleport to an archery range for team assessment of today’s content as they shoot the correct answers out of the air. This can all be created right now, with off the shelf elements but you may not know where to start, how to get those early victories that help you keep going, or simply find what you need as a teacher in this new space. This where Varsity VR will help you.

VarsityVR is a growing team of K-12 educators from around the country that believe virtual reality is where the next group of creative, empathic, and future skilled students will emerge from. We want to open up our findings and experience to help others create a learning space that will be immersive at a distance.

Varsity VR will be testing and adapting VR pedagogy further while working to help educators move the best aspects of their physical classrooms into VR experiences. Varsity VR will be creating RecRoom centric VR Ed tools, demos, classes, and tutoring around how to move your lessons and the amazing things you do in your classroom into RecRoom. The reason VarsityVR has chosen RecRoom over the growing number of VR multiplayer collaborative environments will become evident through our content. One thing to keep in mind is that RecRoom allows everyone in a class to create, make, design, develop, invent, and share with any 6 degree of freedom headset. That includes everything from a Hot Rod Valve Index on a spec’d out desktop to a Sporty Wireless Oculus Quest. While we are focused on VR RecRoom also allows players to interact over PC and iOs devices. I’ve popped into RecRoom briefly on my iPhone to easily spot check projects. The platform has shown to be very versatile.

Varsity VR will have weekly video tutorials and meetups to help teachers integrate their physical classroom into the VR space. We want educators to demonstrate how teachers can use VR authoring tools to create content on their own and alongside students. We’ll cover use cases for different subjects (core/elective/physical education) as well as differentiation, personalization, and classroom management.  Physical education at a distance is

Along with RecRoom integration, we will be providing data around digital learning; specifically focused on VR but also hybrids and any issues to be aware of as new information materializes about each. We will be providing our own data as well as links to other sources that have done their due diligence to provide the best information at the time. We aren’t completely dismissing the use of other VR experiences. On the contrary, we will be offering reviews and methods you can incorporate current educational VR experiences alongside your self authored content so you can expand your cache of tools. We even have a few reviews from students from before the pandemic. We want to make sure everyone has the leading information available to make the best decisions as we move to make one of the largest shifts in education.

We look forward to helping educators make their move into VR and create new vistas of learning.

If you would like to be contacted when new articles, tutorials, demos, reviews, or anything else exciting that is happening with VR and education; leave your contact information in the provided form and we'll keep you up to date.

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Posted by Tyeron Hammontree

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[…] See how we can change the world in part 2 […]

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