What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part IV)

In the final installment of my blog series concerning education and technology, I would like to look ahead at the new technology that is currently attracting interest within educational and academic research. As a reminder, this series stems from the Jean Piaget Society conference I attended which had the theme “Technology and Human Development.” In prior blog posts, I discussed the rate of change of technology (part I), definition of ancient vs digital technology (part II), and the implications of the shift from software to cloud based technology in education (part III). My interest in educational technology relates to its effects on how we both individually and as a society process and construct new ideas. The question for me is as technology rapidly changes how will that affect the way we learn?

The hot new topic in technology is Virtual Reality (VR). We have begun to see simple units developed for the mass market, such as Samsung’s Gear VR, the HTC Vive, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and Google Daydream. As is often the case, the entertainment industry seems to be the driving force behind the introduction of this new technology. Video games and short promotional movies are being developed first and the future financials for VR seems to be immense. One projection by Greenlight Insights indicates that that VR will continue to drive at a 64% annual increase and be a $75 billion dollar industry by 2021.

What is different about this particular technological change is that even though VR has yet to be standardized and Educational Technology isn’t as “sexy” as the entertainment industry, we have already begun to see major players beginning to embrace the EdTech VR market. Google is an example, as it leads the way in trying to understand what VR will mean for the classroom. The “core” idea at this point seems to be to use the new technology to expand and improve on what is already being taught by improving access, active participation, and independence for all students.

Currently, there are examples of virtual field trips or walking tours of natural and architectural wonders from around the world being developed for many different disciplines in education. These 360-degree tours provide an immersive and memorable VR classroom experience in which to relate to the content material differently from images in a textbook. In the future, this VR experience will not only be visual but will use haptic technology to involve the other senses such as touch, smell, and sounds for a truly immersive and actively engaging experience. But VR is being used as educational technology in other ways as well, taking advantage of the ability to use eye-tracking to gage student focus and interest. Current applications include developing smoking cessation applications, helping students develop personal empathy, reducing student anxiety, and VR sessions that help acclimatize therapists to working with real patients.

I do feel that in education we are limited only by our imagination in this new world of virtual reality and do not currently understand the depth of change this revolution that is about to take place in education. Rapidly changing technology is not only set to change our educational structure but will also change how we cognitively process and store information within our brain. The question, then, is are we willing to ride the wave of technological change or be dragged along kicking and screaming in its undertow?


What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part III)

This blog post is the third in a series concerning technology in education stemming from the Jean Piaget Society Conference I attended in June. The theme of this year’s conference was “Technology and Human Development.” It provided a venue to discuss technology through a variety of different academic disciplines and research frames of reference all… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part II)

I have been exploring the idea of technology in education since attending the Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference in San Francisco in early June. The theme for the 2017 conference was Technology and Human Development. In my last blog post, I reflected on the increasing rate of change in technology and how that exponential change… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part I)

The major theme of the Jean Piaget Society annual conference in June was Technology and Human Development. Since attending the conference, I have been part of several fascinating discussions that I would like to explore concerning the future advance of technology within education. In his book Singularity, Ray Kurtzweil talks about how human beings are… Continue Reading

Attending a Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the 47th Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference held in San Francisco. This annual conference brings together an intriguingly diverse group of individuals interested in the psychologist Jean Piaget and his prolific work in the area of constructivism and childhood cognitive development. At this conference, you can… Continue Reading

Personal Perception of Reality

Teaching science I often wonder how my students perceive the physical world as they delve deeply into science concepts. It is often assumed that our personal perception of the world around us is the same from one person to the next. Yet current cognitive research indicates that we have far more “senses” than the five… Continue Reading

Musings on the 2017 NARST Conference

Last week I attended the conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching or NARST in San Antonio, Texas. This is an annual conference that brings together researchers in science education from around the world. I am always surprised at the international aspect of this conference. A person is just as likely to… Continue Reading