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How I got hooked …and now I can’t get off


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VR has been part of my life for the past two years. I started testing when I had my first look at Oblong’s G-Speak system while living in Barcelona. Sure Oblong is not VR, but it served to expand my view into what was possible beyond what I had come to take for granted. I realized the keyboard, mouse and screen combination I used so easily could do much more than what I was doing with it. All of a sudden it has legs, arms and fingers. I was no longer tethered to the primary three components I interactive with on a daily basis. Now, I could use my body to interact with the world on a screen.

Shortly after the Oblong experience I started to learn about Oculus, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). I became fascinated by it. Soon after beginning my learning experience in this new world I had stumbled into I started working at a school in Los Angeles. Shortly after arriving at Vistamar School I arranged a video conference between our Theory of Knowledge students and MIT’s professor Noam Chomsky. The public at large was invited a guests, while our students asked questions and interacted via the video conference. Towards the end of the scheduled session we opened up the conversation to the adults in the room, and a parent stood up and asked Chomsky about zombies. Imagine that!

Scott, the father with the zombie question, and I became friends almost immediately. I learned from him that there where many levels deeper of VR than what I had been exploring. As an artist, he creates his own hybrid worlds made from recorded videos and manipulated images and shapes he has created from scratch. These are incredible to experience using VR. So, now that I was really hooked, I started asking questions. What can I do with this new medium? How can I get started? How can I make this add something of substance to education?

For the past couple of years the question of adding to education has driven my curiosity as I learn more about the hardware and software being developed for the VR/AR space. It is amazing how much is being done in this space now, and it’s hard to keep up. Unfortunately very little is being done in education relative to entertainment, or even military uses. I will continue to search for hardware and software, and content that I can put in the hands of teachers and children to make learning more meaningful, engaging, real, connected and profound.

I wrote this piece because I just caught this video on TED that brought the message home of what VR is capable of doing, and of where we are in adopting and using this medium. Great talk by Chris Milk.

I want to share out a bit of what I’m tinkering with, and what I’ve made so far. I hope this helps anyone trying to get started or simply looking to stay up to-date on everything going on.

These are a few of the things I’ve created and published thus far:

Videos

Photo Collections

 

This is the gear I create with:

For video editing I use a MacBook Pro with Adobe Premiere and After Effects installed, along with the Mettle’s 360/VR Plugin for After Effects

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TEDxNYED – Dan Meyer


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TEDxNYED – Dan Meyer – 03/06/10 – YouTube.

To this day I still cringe whenever I remember myself in math class at any grade level. Sure, I cringe with memories of almost all of my classes, but math, ufff.

Dan’s talk makes me want to be in a math classroom like his! Truly!

I love this video for its simplicity, and for how able it is at showcasing a different approach to the common text-book approach to teaching young minds.

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Video study-group — mmmm


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U:\Semiotics Journal\v2n1-2\Publication1\Publication1.vp.

I never thought of this before, but creating a support structure for faculty to review their practice in an informal “safe” and nurturing space is a great thing to think about. Usually schools are interested in output, professionalism and practice; the teacher is observed, accounted for by HR and evaluated against class scores and the like.

This practice would give the teacher to interpret their own performance and a group of peers to offer support and a space to celebrate what is good about their individual practice. Worth thinking about when creating an institutional PD program.