Jesse Matthews

Portfolio for TRU EDDL

Author: jmatthews

Blended Realities

As previously mentioned, I am entering the teaching field from a background in fine arts. My BFA diploma from 2008 states my field of study was ‘Inter-Media’, a short lived piece of  technology terminology that was a quick breath between multimedia and interdisciplinary arts. I find technological innovation enabling creative and practical problem solving skills to be of interest to my teaching approach. The technology I see making the most impact on the future of education is the combined efforts of Virtual (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) hardware, tethered to an open and universal knowledge software. Immersive technology such as these, coupled with a personalized, modular learning approach would ideally make for self-sufficient learning. Could virtual and augmented reality be the most effective educational technology if used in tandem with a universal design for learning and open learning environments?

 

VR & AR are not necessarily new technology but they’re more commonplace than most people think. Classic examples of this kind could be; gaming, make-up, sightseeing and tourism, athletic training or competition, and military applications. In the past few years, even visual art and live concerts have been exercising new ideas and possibilities through the use of virtual, augmented and blended realities. VR & AR also have a history as a tool for simulated learning; mock-up medical procedures, architecture and design, emergency search and rescue scenarios, physical and emotional rehabilitation, environmental or experiential investigation, STEM education, as well as scientific and mathematical equations. In the latter examples, the three dimensional quality of the technology is used to articulate what is difficult or impossible to describe in text or on paper. According to Leung, et al. (2018)  “VR provides a controlled environment in which learners can navigate, manipulate, and observe the effects of virtual objects found within. As such it is very well suited for providing exploratory learning environments for learning through experimentation.” (p.3)

 

I see VR & AR working very well in a blended learning environment, where they could accompany other tools for teaching. As the world shifts to online learning as a most common way to educate, the role of the teacher changes along with it. The future of face-to-face real time teaching and learning is changing everyday. I believe the Universal Design Learning (UDL) and Open Education Resources (OER) would be the best approach to teaching and learning VR & AR. UDL & OER could provide the student with a modular, flexible and progressive workflow that is specific to the individual’s optimal learning habits. Cooperative learning structures, feedback sessions and regular assessments would provide a solid foundation for further educational assistance. If self-sufficiency is the goal with education, and creating teachers out of learners then empowering the student with knowledge and confidence is the first step. Once you’ve taught a new tool to someone, the best outcome is that they can practice this new skill themselves as well as pass it on to others, and on repeat.  

 

One issue with making VR & AR a universal educational technology is the cost to manufacture and maintain such devices. As Google gains more leverage over the internet and its educational programs and technology, there is an opportunity to make a technology like their Google glasses a free and accessible form of hardware that could function with open software and universal resources, in hopes of bridging the digital divide. As Traxler notes (2007) “With increased popular access to information and knowledge anywhere, anytime, the role of education, perhaps especially formal education, is challenged and the relationships between education, society, and technology are now more dynamic than ever.” (p.2).  Another ongoing concern with VR & AR is the possible security threat inherent in the technology, with its recording and monitoring capabilities as well as facial recognition and social media connectivity. Towards the end of 2019, augmented reality game Pokemon GO was in the news when 2 players in search of Pikachu ended up on a Canadian Military base in North Bay, this bizarre incident also caught the attention of the New York Times. Regardless of these troubles, I still believe VR and AR could coexist in harmony through open educational resources in a universal design for learning.

   

References : 

 

Hegarty, B. (2015, July–August). Attributes of open pedagogy: A model for using open educational resources. Educational Technology, 3-13. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ca/Ed_Tech_Hegarty_2015_article_attributes_of_open_pedagogy

Kennette, L. N., & Wilson, N. A. (2019). Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Student and Faculty Perceptions. Journal of Effective Teaching in Higher Education2(1), 1–26.

King-Sears, M. (2009). Universal design for learning: Technology and pedagogy. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32(4), 199–201. https://doi.org/10.2307/27740372

Leung, T., Zulkernine, F., & Isah, H. (2018). The use of virtual reality in enhancing interdisciplinary research and education. arXiv, 1–6. https://arxiv.org/abs/1809.08585

Manovich, L. (2006). The poetics of augmented space.  http://www.alice.id.tue.nl/references/manovich-2006.pdf

Singleton, Korey Jerome, et al. “Integrating UDL Strategies into the Online Course Development Process: Instructional Designers Perspectives.” Online Learning, vol. 23, no. 1, Jan. 2019, http://doi:10.24059/olj.v23i1.1407

Traxler, J. (2007). Defining, discussing and evaluating mobile learning: The moving finger writes and having writ …. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 8(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v8i2.346

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Chapters 1 & 2. In, Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.tru.ca/lib/trulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4837975

 

A Sampler

My name is Jesse Matthews, and I am a new teacher. My introduction to teaching comes from various short and long term contracts, facilitating creativity arts and music workshops for teenages and young adults. General disadvantages as well as physical and/or learning disabilities were common with most of the students I worked with during this time. I used whatever technology was appropriate and available, to engage with the students to hopefully have them express themselves. I could see the cognitive wheels turning as the students would amaze themselves at how easy it was to be creative in the right environment, with the right tool at their fingertips. 

In these workshops and sessions I mainly focused on sound and music, and over the years I employed the same piece of technology in every scenario. Mostly for its ease of use, but also to try to get the most out of one tool, rather than finding the newest or trendiest ones. That single piece of educational technology is a very basic piece of electronic music equipment, commonly known as a sampler. After noticing that a lot of the students wanted to make music, but were very intimidated to learn the piano, guitar and even drums. It takes time, and with no guarantee you will be a master any time soon. However, the sampler offers a different way into the creative process of making music. Simply put, one can use the microphone to record a sound onto one of more of 16 available pads, that they can then push with their finger to ‘play’ or arrange into a sequence to make a song. Therefore you’re not limited to your musical knowledge or proficiency, but instead can use your creativity to carve out your own voice using the sounds that mean something to you. Some actual audio examples from previous students include; their dog’s bark, a rumbling stomach, rain on a bus shelter, smashing light bulbs, a whirlygig, and combing the hair of a childhood doll, just to name a few. These sounds were then used by the student as a part of a story or a song they put together, and it was the tool that aided this learning process.

Though the sampler is a very basic tool that anyone could use with some instant success, it is more importantly one that leaves the user wanting more. The tactile quality of the sampler allows the user to play it like a traditional instrument, but one that is personalized in a very immediate way. Which generally stimulates the player to learn quicker and consequently become confident and comfortable enough to then teach someone else the basics. Which is always great to see, and hear. 

I’m very excited by the creative potential and learning experiences I witnessed students having by using a simple tool like the sampler, and the possibilities that immersive educational technology could inspire. In a fantasy future classroom, AI/VR/AR could be commonplace educational technology to teach and learn with, especially with students who may need a different kind of experience to fully understand the material being taught. As an arts educator I’m always looking for the best way to allow students to bring their ideas to life and I believe creativity to be an important key to pattern recognition, problem solving, total comprehension and self-sufficient learning. 

Research question:

I’m very keen on what AI/VR/AR could do for people suffering from developmental challenges, and other disadvantages that could make traditional learning environments difficult.  Does immersive educational technology actually activate cognitive thinking more than traditional methods? Could these types of educational technology allow students to learn more efficiently or to express their ideas more clearly? 

References:

Wyse, Lonce. (2019, July 30.) Mechanisms of Artistic Creativity in Deep Learning Neural Networks Communication and New Media Department National University of Singapore https://arxiv.org/pdf/1907.00321.pdf  

 

Utz, Vanessa, DiPaola, & Steve. (2019, September 15). Using an AI creativity system to explore how aesthetic experiences are processed along the brain’s perceptual neural pathways. Retrieved from Science Direct  https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.06904v1

 

McDermott, E. (2020, January 7). Holly Herndon on Her AI Baby, Reanimating Tupac, and Extracting Voices. Retrieved from Art News https://www.artnews.com/art-in-america/interviews/holly-herndon-emily-mcdermott-spawn-ai-1202674301/

 

Schwarz, G. (2019, April 4). The art of virtual reality. Retrieved from Apollo Magazine https://www.apollo-magazine.com/virtual-reality-contemporary-art/

 

Loh, A. K. (2017, November 1). Alyssa K. Loh Virtual Reality and Empathy. Retrieved from 

Art Forum Magazine https://www.artforum.com/print/201709/alyssa-k-loh-on-virtual-reality-and-empathy-71781

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