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The Likely Role of AR & VR in Modern Education
Image credit: Roundup Reads
Guest post by Patrick Foster of Ecommerce Tips
How Will AR & VR Technologies Fit Into Education?
The education system has always needed to have its finger on the pulse of the technology industry, because while the principles of pedagogy haven’t changed enormously over the years, the methods certainly have. And with today’s students facing a future that will be massively dominated by the digital world (and likelier than ever before to build careers in tech-related fields), it’s incredibly important that we prepare them using all available tools.
When it comes to AR & VR technologies, however, it isn’t always obvious how they can — or should — be used for educational purposes. They’re expensive, after all, and still far from achieving the kind of mainstream appeal that would clearly merit such expense.
Regardless of the extent to which they are useful now, however, there’s use in considering how they’re likely to be folded into educational practices sooner or later. Let’s take a look at how educators are (probably) going to be using AR & VR tech.
Allowing personalized learning experiences
In schools that have large class sizes, it can be challenging to give each student the kind of education that takes into account their personal abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Course materials are expensive and often cumbersome, and teachers simply don’t have the time to spend with students one-on-one.
What AR & VR tools easily allow is extensive personalization, and it isn’t limited by hardware. A classroom could have just one VR headset, for instance, but a separate account for each student, creating an entirely different learning environment catered to the student using it.
Throughout the entire duration of their time in schooling, their VR account could continue to develop in line with their choices and performances. Teachers could easily monitor their activity from elsewhere — imagine a class of students using distinct VR headsets with the teacher overseeing everything from a single monitor. It’s entirely possible, and (I’d say) quite likely.
Supporting advanced work and assessments
Finding unique ways to challenge students can be an issue for schools with limited ability to arrange field trips or personal tuition, and the many problems with conventional testing systems are well-established. Backed by intuitive development tools for teachers, AR & VR tech could greatly expand the range of options for both educational exercises and formal assessments.
Think about the difference between following a standard set of puzzles in a book and engaging with an AR-enhanced puzzle through a basic smartphone. The latter is not only going to be more interesting — it’s also going to be more complex. The more factors you add into the equation, the greater the challenge becomes, and you can take the puzzle in whatever direction you like.
You could even configure a work assignment to scale in difficulty and scope to respond to the student’s ability. If they start struggling, the software can step in, giving them some guidance and pointing them in the right direction. If they breeze through everything, the software can ramp up the difficulty. And when the teacher looks at the results afterwards, they can get a comprehensive breakdown of how everything went.
Providing new opportunities for students with disabilities
Bolstering accessibility is one of the greatest accomplishments of the technological revolution, and VR tech has the power to provide remarkable options for students who are simply incapable of having certain experiences. The internet provides so much for those with ambition but limited means, and someone unable to physically get out into the world can still thrive.
Just imagine what someone wheelchair-bound could do from the classroom. They could visit the seven wonders of the world in VR. They could forge entrepreneurial careers (the ecommerce world has a selection of industry-specific businesses for sale that can be run from anywhere — no store needed). They could build their own virtual world and invite others to join them.
And on the topic of shared experiences, think about how students could express themselves creatively. We all learn differently, and students who struggle to express themselves vocally (for instance) might flourish when given the chance to communicate through manipulating virtual environments. The possibilities are remarkable. It’s understandable for some to fear that the human element of education has been lost, but in this way, technology can actually play a part in bringing it back.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert for Ecommerce Tips. He’s been meaning to get an HTC Vive for some time, but keeps putting it off. Check out the blog, and follow along on Twitter @myecommercetips.
Enhancements to Appointment Pass
Back in June of this year we released Appointment Pass, a module for e-hallpass that allows school staff to create future passes for appointments with students. Think guidance counselor, scheduled early dismissal, makeup tests, etc. To jog your memory, consider revisiting the blog post from June 20, 2017 titled “Appointment Pass for e-hallpass is Here!”
At Eduspire Solutions we’re always working to improve the user experience and add more features and enhancements to our products. To ensure maximum utility and functionality, we’ve made some recent updates to Appointment Pass that will benefit both teachers and students. Here are some highlights:
- Improved pass notifications/acknowledgements for students at 20 minutes and 5 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment.
- Improved wording on passes: i.e. Instead of “Acknowledge” and “Go To Pass,” the alert will now say “Your Appointment Pass is now ready” at five minutes prior to the scheduled event, and a countdown timer will start.
Teacher Appointment Menu
- No more “lost” pass details. The “Pass Details” will now stay in the table and will appear in students’ “Active Pass” list.
- The teacher appointment menu will keep a complete record of all scheduled and completed appointment passes.
- If an appointment is missed by a student, it will change to a different color to provide distinction between a missed appointment and an appointment that simply ended.
- Improvements to the pass layout have made it more responsive on mobile devices.
- Once students acknowledge their appointments, a check mark will appear under the pass info.
- Improved color schemes.
- Additional check box added to the teacher dashboard called “Include My Missed Appointments” so that teachers can see a more complete history.
- Codes added to the pass info near the edit button indicating the pass type: “AUTO (auto), PROX (for a proxy pass), APPT (for appointment passes), and STUD (student-created passes).
Clever to simplify student logins and provide secure data integration for Eduspire Solutions school district customers
Undoubtedly one of the slower industries to adopt and widely use technology to reshape itself, education is finally coming around. Gradually, schools across the country are starting to allocate budgets toward digital initiatives and tech tools aimed at improving the learning experience and streamlining processes.
One example of a tech tool that has not yet been widely adopted in the education realm is the API (Application Programming Interface — or “under-the-hood” technical architecture that allow different systems to “talk to each other” and exchange data). Whether or not we’re aware, most of us enjoy the benefits of APIs every day through our use of mobile apps like Facebook, Uber, and countless others. Aside from the most well-known tech giants, companies in the finance, communications, and travel industries have caught on to the massive potential enabled by APIs — potential for growth and versatility.
We can’t help but to be excited by the EdTech Digest article titled “The Aspirational Thinking of the API Economy” by Micheal Heffernan for reinforcing the notion that the rise of APIs in the edtech space is going to create opportunities for automation and collaboration that, before now, have not been possible.
While the education industry has lagged behind other sectors in adoption, we are starting to see a new wave that will bring these advances to schools, teachers, admins, and students. Heffernan writes:
“By bringing systems together, APIs give users a sense of effortless mobility. Their simplicity makes all kinds of services instantly accessible. Customers gain massive benefits from speedier development cycles since the applications they use are constantly evolving behind the scenes, thereby offering a tangible sense of moving with change rather than resisting it.”
Imagine the possibilities when administrative functions, scheduling, attendance, learning management systems, and other edtech tools can all easily exchange data. The impact to personalized learning, to assessment, to mastery, and to actionable data would be magnificent.
Software companies and developers aren’t strangers to the education space — in fact, EdTech Digest (the source of the cited article) has an annual contest in which hundreds of software companies compete for title of the coolest school tool or trend setter in various categories — but most have yet to scratch the surface of the influence that APIs could have on education as a whole, not just as an industry.
Our company, Eduspire Solutions, has been developing applications that streamline and digitize administrative solutions within the context of education, primarily as standalone systems, but we are now moving in the direction of even more integration with data available from other school systems to improve functionality and user experiences.
Eduspire Solutions also supports developments of common standards around different data types to further facilitate this type of information exchange without the need for custom programming for each system’s API. Applications like our e-hallpass and FlexTime Manager seamlessly interact with system data from hundreds of schools across the country, creating a user experience that is truly integrated.
But this article on the API economy isn’t the first time we’ve felt a spark ignite our imagination about the future of edtech. Our guest post for GoGuardian, titled “Are Analog Processes in Schools Meant to Stay That Way?“, conceptualizes (and brings to life) real opportunities for modernization in the slow-to-adopt education space. Change is happening, and we’re excited for the future of edtech once APIs become a larger part of that change.