welcomed and for young people to experience new technology, it is important for them to project and build in these possibilities into the toolboxes of their imaginations while young. I did see and work on some projects when AR/VR products first began to appear for use in schools. The possibilities they brought to the classroom were amazing – being able to simulate situations that young people would not normally be able to experience; being able to see locations as they had been; stimulate their senses far better than the use of the animations and simulated labs we previously used, and so on. Unfortunately, as I have, in recent years, been working in schools that needed to spend their financial resources in developing elsewhere, I am not in the position to discuss details or which product compares to another. However, the question did remind me of the warning often heard before using other innovations in education: ‘If the technology is being used to replicate what you already do in your teaching then you’re not using it well.’ So, two thoughts came to my mind:
To answer this, consider the following:
How will you use AR/VR (or any other tool) to provide your learners with the opportunity to develop: different ways of thinking; care, compassion, empathy and perseverance; where are the opportunities to improve their ability to notice, be curious, develop their powers of inquiry, reflection, to test out their open-mindedness and define more clearly the landscape of their values; how will it enable your young people to develop their belief in themselves – that they too could not only master such technology but one day be part of creating and extending it? How will this technology help them become collaborative, independent, communicative learners who can engage and innovate with this technology rather than simply be in awe of it or be remote from it?
And, if you don’t have access to such technology yet, what are you currently doing to create opportunities for your learners to develop the attributes mentioned above? There is an approach we can take to any curriculum you currently use that enhances the opportunity to develop learner attributes as well as fulfilling the needs of the said curriculum. I call this a ‘learner-development-centred approach’ and, if you want to know more about that, then I am happy to explain for sure.
As creativity, innovation, self-expression, collaboration, reflection, ability to focus are important attributes for learners to develop, we need to do all we can to create the opportunities for young people to develop them with the help (or not) of their teachers, communities, and environment.
I am sure many of us have seen lots of wonderfully creative ideas – that have ended up being a hinderance and then hidden away in the storeroom. They range from great ideas that can only be used one way to things that look good but actually don’t help learners develop. I’ve seen wonderfully 'creative furniture' that looked great but actually limited creativity. Furniture made for a purpose that couldn’t really be used for another; different tables for different purposes that flummoxed teachers when they needed everyone to have the same type of table; great furniture that was then found to be too big or awkwardly shaped to be rearranged. On the other hand, I’ve seen lots of examples of highly creative use of very basic furniture. The latter was always better – small tables and chairs that could be easily and quickly rearranged to suit whatever learners or teachers required – open spaces: tables to the sides; group learning: tables bunched together, class discussion: tables arranged in a circle; and if you’re doing exams: rows, and so on. Also, usually, the simpler things are, the easier they are replaced.
So, don’t just think about things looking creative (and this doesn't necessarily equal 'modern') but think about what you have as being flexible so that people can be creative. And if you have old but flexible furniture in your school but can’t afford to replace it, don’t be embarrassed, just make sure your learners and teachers show parents and visitors know, how creative you are in the way you use your furniture!
As I once said to a creative furniture salesperson: 'It is the people we want to be creative not the furniture!'
What do you think? Am I missing something?