March 25, 2019

"Majoring in VR"

Across the U.S., we are seeing the growing frequency of private programs (NYTedu and the Academy of VR) designed to teach students to design VR. Then it should be no large surprise  that now we have a college in Florida offering a full major in VR design and creation: Ringling College.

March 18, 2019

What it takes

What does it take to make VR projects successful?

What does it take to get muscular with your VR project?
I have found that the following combined strategies can beat down the failure phenomenon. In successful implementations, your project or venture will likely evidence:
  • A respected champion (teacher, principal, or district administrator)
  • A clear and sustained plan for scaling the innovation
  • Attention density, an instructional focus that is consistent and stable over time. (See (Rock, D., and Schwartz, J. (2009) The Neuroscience of Leadership; and Olivero, Bane, Kopelman (1997)
  • Unyielding systematization of the innovation within the culture and curriculum of the school. (It’s not just a fun add-on, but a both a required and culturally acceptable methodology.)
  • A plan for minimizing the predictable organizational entropy associated with any innovation: loss of key staff, equipment obsolescence, technical difficulties, newly competing priorities, ongoing training, and curricular systematization, to name a few)
  • Constant evaluation, continuous improvement, and evidencing of results. (We value only what we measure, what works.)


March 11, 2019

Why Technology Fails

Imagine this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde scenario occurring in a pilot project implementing VR in an educational setting:

After completing a twelve- month pilot project in a dozen schools in this European capitol, the final results were in. Kids loved the technology and felt it improved their learning and even the relevance of the curriculum itself. Yet teachers appeared consistently resistant to the technology: they could not envision its use and did not want to continue to use it.

Of course, this is a true story. Why does this happen?  And most importantly, when teachers are way out of step with where the kids are at, what can we do about it? Read our next series of posts to understand this unfortunate paradox and how we can deal with it.

March 4, 2019

Why Projects Fail

Why do VR projects sometimes fail?
Research shows that teachers are a volunteeristic and idiosyncratic lot. Teaching itself is a volunteeristic and idiosyncratic profession. Teachers will tackle innovation only if they want to, and stay with it only if the technology suits their style and preferences. You can’t expect much else. So what happened in the previously posted scenario unfortunately sounds about right. It’s for these reasons that it’s always a tough proposition to implement technology innovation in educational settings. Only highly creative, intrinsically motivated, or curiously inventive teachers break out of this pattern. And a few creative teachers will not create overwhelming scalability for exciting VR products or solutions.

Why don’t more teachers kick in?
Even if a given technology is popular with young people, most teachers tend to put themselves in lanes of instructional practice and habit, and it becomes stubbornly difficult to move them into other lanes. For example, three teachers may show an interest, but many other teachers do not—and won’t—because they feel the implementing teachers have this innovation ‘covered’. In schools and universities, time is a limited commodity for teachers. Any time that would be taken to implement a technology would clearly complete with the taut limits of volunteerism and the narrowed preferences or idiosyncrasies of teachers. And, sometimes, pushing for technology innovation may take on a “mean-spirited” twist. For example, in some school districts or universities, a technology using teacher/professor may be viewed as a technology or innovation diva (in the negative sense of the word) —an attention hog—and they can be mocked or avoided by other ‘normalized’ educators. “Not for us,” they cry!