Two people playing Stark trek bridge crew in VR

From Star Trek to VR

Being an avid Star Trek fan, I have always been chasing the idea of a tablet you could write on digitally.  In the early 2000s, Gateway had a store, and they also had a tablet that cost several thousand dollars. I wanted it so bad and had dreams of taking notes in college with it.  Over the years I have seen computer companies try and fail to create a truly responsive tablet. I bought a Surface early on, but found the tablet was still “not right.”  Finally, with the advent of the Ipad Pro and the Apple pencil, my dreams have become realized (as nerdy as that may seem.) This summer I am using my iPad as the core of my classes,  I am able to take fantastic notes, split-screen between content and videos.  And I have seen the studies regarding writing notes over typing, and it seems to work for me.   

It took nearly 20 years for the technology to catch up to our dreams, and I hope to watch video evolve in this way as well.  Many of my friends already have VR, although it has a pricey entrance ticket, however, I think as more companies invest (especially in workforce learning) we will see some amazing advancements and it finally will be available to everyone.  I have been a Microsoft Innovative Educator for several years and about 2 years ago I was shown a product they were working on for elementary students AND neurodivergent students.  

Microsoft has an immersive reader product that really helps focus readers, utilizes text to speech, and more.  What Microsoft showed us (and was recently released) was using an immersive reader to actually put the student into a VR state while reading, enabling students to swipe text, move text, and separate words.  This advanced technology would allow so many neurodivergent students who often can’t understand text in the 1D world into the 3D world. 

For video, I hope that we can continue to build immersive, high-quality videos that will engage learners but also maintain the idea of diverse learners.  I can imagine, 3D screens (cue Hololens) and other interactive types of video, for my teaching practice Edpuzzle was a game-changer during the pandemic.  Normally in class, I would model efficient reading strategies and throw in comprehension, guiding, or summaries of text as we went.  When we went to 100% online, I was able to record myself reading and put in interactive questions and more for students.  I believe in the future our video will be rich, dynamic, and accessible anywhere and anytime.  Working in the Instructional Design field I am already seeing the demand for busy CEOs to get their learning when they can, from wherever they can.  

Another piece is that many college students are adults, with families and work — having interactive lectures that are available at any time with all of the prompts built-in, maybe even physically dragging and dropping items in VR would be amazing to see. I feel the same as I did in 2002 while standing in the Gateway store, I am excited for where tech takes us and the issues we have to grapple with along the way.

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