Largely debated and clearly not resolved, equity in education is an issue near and dear to many educators. From a high level, birds eye view, governing bodies do their best to address the needs of all students, regardless of social economics, race, gender and beliefs, with systems and procedures that attempt to address equity on a very broad scale. It is loosely these systems and procedures that guide the classroom educator and, at times, bind their teaching.
Throughout these systems and procedures, teachers are unapologetically expected to motivate and inspire their students to not just complete tasks but muster up the will to accel beyond what is asked of them, such as bonus question on a quiz. We differentiate our teaching tactics to account for inclusion so that all learners can, to the best of their ability, understand, process and retain the lessons being taught. So the question, what does poverty & equity look like in ready player one and what lessons can be learned by appropriately integrating new technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?, might require an example.
Take for instance the need to complete a project. There’s this kid, the CKO, Chief Kid Officer of DigCitKids, @currancentral, who was asked to create a Native American village diorama in a shoebox. He asked his teacher if he could model the village in Minecraft. The teacher said no, the project must reside inside the shoebox. So he built the diorama in Minecraft but placed a description and a QR code that would take you to the Minecraft model, “inside”, the shoebox. He got an F. He thought outside the shoebox and used new and engaging technology to complete the assignment. I hope that as educators we consider the power of tools like Minecraft, VR and AR to inspire creativity thereby adding another option of expression for those learners these technologies resonate with.
In Ready Player One the book Cline describes in detail what the educational system on Ludus looks like. He describes a flexible and customizable learning environment. One that I think could bring equity to learning whether your connecting from an affluent or impoverished neighborhood. He describes the fact that teachers can instantly take students on interactive virtual field trips which provide high levels of immersion translating into better understanding of the subject. Furthermore, we can also imagine that students had access to visit historical events in high fidelity and full immersion. Imagine too, the possibly of constructing new outcomes with “artificially intelligent virtual interaction”, yes I made that one up, an experience that would place you in a place and time in history that you could interact with and examine how different choices might have changed the outcome of history.
In the book we see this type of technology used as Parzival is asked to complete a Flicksync of the movie WarGames. He is asked to recite dialogue as the character, David, and Parzival can deviate causing various changes to the Ficksync story and environment.
Virtual Reality clearly has the potential to challenge users, break social and economic barriers and enhance access by providing engaging equitable access to learning.
Thanks to our listeners for joining us on this journey. If you liked our conversation today, don’t forget to check out our other episodes. We also want you to join in on the conversation. Use #VRpodcast to ask questions or comment on VR, immersion technology, or even about The Virtual Reality Podcast.