September 26, 2016

Gimmick or Godsend (1)

Gimmick or Godsend: AR/VR in Education

Marybeth Green (Associate Professor of Instructional Technology and Graduate Coordinator for the Instructional Technology Program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville) and her colleagues are actively researching 3D augmented and virtual reality as it plays out in the K-12 classroom. This story begins with a conundrum.

The Problem.
Dr. Green noticed a phenomenon occurring in classrooms using augmented and virtual reality: “We have found is that there is a "wow" factor when people first see 3D images; but this enthusiasm often obscures the quality of the content,” which can be outright poor.

The Backdrop.
Dr. Green and her colleagues recently pursued a small grant to purchase augmented reality books, books that also required the purchase of AR/VR viewing apps. They acquired more than 100 books. Using an iPad, the student could view augmented reality 3D images or even click off the AR image and explore a virtual reality simulation right in the classroom. According to Dr. Green, who is putting a list of these resources together, about 20-25% of the available AR resources provide students with a combined mixed and virtual reality experience.

The Discovery.
“Initially, preservice teachers find the content enthralling. When seeing 3D, it is so unexpected; so when they see 3D images emerge, they don’t see the quality of what’s there. It is only after repeated exposures that they begin to examine the content and find its weaknesses. Some of the content is quite good and builds on students' understanding of the content, but some is hardly worth the effort or price,” explains the researcher. Inservice teachers appear to be more discriminating, however. “It’s nice, but it doesn’t really help with comprehension or learning—some of the content is a bit disappointing,” she adds.  “Teachers are much more appreciative of the content that really does enhance the value and understanding of the textual content.”

The Parry.

Dr. Green and her associates identified a workable method to get past the unreasonable ‘wow’ factor of middling quality AR/VR content,: they provided teachers with a basic academic rubric that could be used to sift less-than-stellar AR/VR content out of consideration.  The rubric appears to be effective. “It enables us to ask the question: ‘Is this content a gimmick or godsend’ ”, she states.

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