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Will teachers grab onto Augmented Reality?

02 Jun

What kind of crazy person will incorporate Augmented Reality in a classroom?

Don’t student’s already have too much of gaming and visual distraction in their lives? I hear you. But AR is a whole new system. I don’t think a teacher’s age will be a factor of adoption. I’ve met some who are willing to do anything to make text-books and charts come alive. They will be those who say ‘this is way too technical for us’ –the same ones who fear digital readers will kill libraries, or think blogs are too scary–and stick to photocopies and glue.

Unfortunately students may not agree! Many of them come to school with some digital device in their backpack. They cannot turn them on, but they sure know how to use them. Then, when they leave their analog classroom, and get back home, they become fully-engaged digital citizens. Something’s wrong with this picture!

OK, I over-simplified the problem. Classrooms are not exactly analog. We do have computers for students to use. We do have smart boards such as Blackboard and Promethean. But often, these are used to broaden and amplify what the teacher has to say, not what the student might be ready to experience.

I have covered Augmented Reality many times before, especially how it is being used in business environments. Now, as it begins making tentative steps into the classroom, we need to make sure educators understand where this is coming from, where it is headed. Many will want to understand how it might integrate with that marvelous piece of technology a.k.a the text book!

Yesterday, I interviewed Scot Jochim, from Digital Tech Frontier, a Tempe, Arizona-based company. He has some radical ideas about how AR could be embedded in educational environments to enhance ‘non-linear skill sets.’  (Stay tuned for a longer post on that interview.)

As I have moved from the digital world of business into teaching, I am exploring how schools of the future might be run.

  • Will they be something like the twilight zone scenario portrayed by Ira Glass in a recent episode of This American Life, which featured Brooklyn Free School?
  • Or will it be there be social media-enhanced curricula, such as the school profiled in The New York Times, where a teacher in Sioux Rapids, Iowa uses a Twitter-like feature in a literature class?
In an upcoming story, ‘Messing Around In Class,’ I featured how Higher Ed is moving in this direction, away from the ‘Sage on the Stage’ model to more interactive, collaborative classrooms. Truly inspiring work at Purdue, Scottsdale Community College, and Singapore Management University.
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