Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Future is Here- Here Comes Everything
What I find most interesting in the discussion question this week is that most of what is mentioned –continuous access, contact with others, information sources with learnable customization- is already here. A lot of what we previously had to remember is no longer necessary. I can honestly say I only know about three phone numbers: my own, my college number and one friend’s number. If I search my memory bank I can remember all of my old home phone numbers and some phone numbers from long ago, but I couldn’t tell you the phone numbers of most of my current friends. Apparently, my mind has dumped the requirement for remembering them. Those numbers are stored in a cell phone that has pictures of people and names, and I don’t have to key in the digits, so I think of people in a non numerical way. By accessing one of the augmented reality apps on my iPhone like Layar or Wikitude or Foursquare, I can augment my real life with information that is continuously available. My Macbook is hooked up to my LCD screen so I can surf on the laptop or on the TV screen and switch to cable and watch an on demand channel.
In a world with all this and a future with even more, what do I need to know? I’d say a whole lot but not necessarily the same as what I may have needed to know yesterday. Maybe I don’t need as many details, but I’d say I’d need to know how to navigate and understand how to use what’s there to make sense. In a world of constant and exponentially increasing technology, we need to know how to change and adapt. We need to understand what is real, what is important. We need to be able to sift through everything, analyze, and evaluate. And we still need a lot of basic knowledge that is the foundation for understanding complex subjects.
As Burbules says in Meanings of Ubiquitous Learning, ubiquitous learning is more that anytime- anywhere, and the distinction between formal and informal education is blurred. Teachers are no longer just the source of learning; they should be and will be more guide, more broker and learning is not and will not be just in educational institutions during distinct time periods. Learning will be more and more in immersive environments.
Two courses ago, I created a wiki in Wiked on Augmented Reality in Education http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Augmented_Reality_in_Education Now located here http://augmented-reality-in-education.wikispaces.com/ In the wiki, I talked about 5 applications of Augmented Reality in Education: AR in training, AR in Discovery Based learning, AR in Gaming, AR to Model Objects and Augmented Reality Books. Augmented reality is one way to provide opportunities for learning that is immersive. With many of these applications there is situated learning. Kids playing an augmented reality game that takes place in a real location interact with real and virtual characters to discover what really happened during a past event, or discover the source of an environmental problem. (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBG0_jfXt7o )
A doctor using a augmented reality simulation is able to practice a real world operation in a no consequence world. A mechanic can learn a process with information overlaid on a real process so that he/she can follow the steps.
The emphasis in these types of AR apps is on learning skills but also on the critical skills necessary to solve a problem. Information from these processes also can be captured and replayed so that not only the person taking part can watch and learn again but also that someone else can assess the process through a back channel. Augmented reality books, offer not just a reading experience but also an interactive process with visuals that are off the page. (See AR Book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siOUOPh-7vM ) Augmented reality and virtual experience in the future will create opportunities for learners to experience and learn by doing not just on their own but collaboratively in teams.
Education in higher grades, from my point of view, will have less focus on just remembering information. Focus will be directed more to learning what information is relevant and how it can be used. Learning will be more authentic and situated. A year or two ago, I read of a teacher who allowed all the students in his class to use the Internet to complete their final exams. His thinking was that in the real world when employees have a task to complete, they have access to the Internet, so why shouldn’t students have that access during an exam in school. What that teacher was saying and what many others now are saying is that it is not just the information that is important. The search for the right information, the critical thinking skills to solve a problem is also very much a key.
We may talk about a “learned” person- one who has acquired much knowledge through study. Maybe in the past that was the goal. I’d say that the future is not so much in learned persons but more in “learning persons"-- ones who know how to continuously learn, change and evolve. As Burbules says, it is more than life-long learning; it’s not in a designated time or space and maybe it’s a changed world where, “to be is to learn.”
Augmented Reality in Education. (2010). WikEd. Retrieved from http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Augmented_Reality_in_Education now at http://augmented-reality-in-education.wikispaces.com/
Nicholas C. Burbules, “Meanings of ubiquitous learning.” Ubiquitous Learning, Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, eds. (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 15-20.