June 27, 2016

Echo Chamber

At the ISTE 2016 conference, being held this week, virtual reality is no doubt turning out to be the new popular kid on the block. (See last week’s post.) But there’s a problem afoot: We are seeing an “echo chamber” effect at play in educational settings. Too many of these sessions sound like the same content: the field trip or the gadget. Both represent education ‘light.’ That’s not a good thing.

“Hardware has run ahead of content,” bemoans Rene Pinell of Kaleidoscope VR . She’s right. You can see it here at the ISTE conference. In the Wall Street Journal, Chrisotpher Mims lambasts the fact that “most content is demos.” He’s right, too. Can you whisper “hype cycle?” With the exception of zSpace and my own workshops (the last two on the list posted last week), there is nothing much new here. Unlike VR at the recent SXSWedu festival, which featured many creative twists for VR (e.g., online learning, virtual reality mashups, vision health, emotional intelligence, and the future of storytelling), VR at ISTE is, like many new technologies, pursuing the lowest common denominator. Ouch.

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