Virtual Reality ≠ Virtual Work

After listening to guest speaker Marlene Brooks I feel myself left with a lot of questions about the use of virtual reality in education.  As an administrator I see many positives when it comes to using a medium that students are already accustomed to in order to engage them as learners.  As a teacher I see may possibilities of how I could incorporate this technology into my own teaching practices.  After having these positive thoughts reality sets in, a realization of all the work that goes along with teaching within a virtual environment.

 I understand that participation in virtual reality can engage students, allow them to construct knowledge and allow for opportunities to collaborate with others (Brooks, 2011; Stoerger, 2010), but from my point of view the negatives seem to outweigh the positives at this point and time.  Jin, Wen, & Gough, (2010) state that there are challenges trying to get formal learning to work effectively within virtual worlds (p.140).  From the administrative point of view I perceive a high cost in operating this type of an environment.  The infrastructure needs to be updated so that the computers can run these applications effectively and there needs to be enough bandwidth to allow all students access.  Another issue that is apparent to me is the time that it would take teachers to try to learn how to operate within these environments, not to mention the technical expertise it would take to build these worlds.  Stoerger (2010) states that using a virtual world will not necessarily affect the way that teachers are presenting the material (Introduction,  para. 3). My main focus as an administrator right now is just trying to get teachers to adapt to the basic technology that is out there and think about incorporating it into their daily practice.  Finally there is always the issue of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act looming over all educators heads.  It is our responsibility to protect the students information and privacy.

 As a teacher that is familiar with technology and comfortable using It, I can see the many possibilities that this technology holds.  I understand that we need to engage students by using technologies that they are already familiar with, but as Brooks (2012) pointed out in her presentation, there is a huge learning curve involved with this technology.  Additionally an added concern is the amount of time needed to not only produce this type of work, but to function effectively within a virtual environment.  I know from my own point of view, as well as that of my colleagues, the time just is not there with all of the other professional development requirements that are put upon us.  Brooks did point out that individuals could visit islands in virtual worlds.  I could see this as a way to start engaging in this type of environment without overwhelming myself.  Presently I see far too many challenges to immerse myself in this technology, but do see some possibilities for the future.  Unfortunately when you have challenges just getting teachers using the basic technologies, even thinking about moving to these more extravagant technologies would be reckless and irresponsible from an administrative point of view.

 References

Brooks, M. (2012, February).  Design and development using second life for e-learning.  Speech presented for EDER 679.29 L06 Elluminate class, Calgary, Alberta

 Jin, L., Wen, Z., & Gough, N. (2010). Social virtual worlds for technology-enhanced learning on an augmented learning platform. Learning, Media and Technology, 35(2), 139-153.

 Stoerger. S. (2010). Creating a Virtual World Mindset: A Guide for First Time Second Life Teachers. The Journal of Distance Education, 24(3).

About pjstokes

I like just about all sports…mainly participating in them. I have also recently taken up photography as a hobby (the background pic is one of mine).

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One Response to Virtual Reality ≠ Virtual Work

  1. drdoug says:

    Pat, thanks for the thoughtful response to Marlene’s session. Your point is well taken with respect to the time required to create the virtual worlds. When I was a SAIT, there was a whole department dedicated to designing and building online courses, multimedia pieces etc. The public school teacher does not usually have the advantage of such a support mechanism though we do have Alberta Learning with some firepower, such as learnalberta.ca. By collaborating province-wide and beyond with other educators who teach exactly the same courses, and with post-secondary institutions as exemplified at Memorial, perhaps effective virtual worlds can be built and implemented within our existing learning environments.

    Thanks for the good post.
    – Doug

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