For nearly 12 years now I have had a very deep interest in the possibilities of collaborative web technology in education. When I started creating these tool of my own 4-5 years ago a few of these technologies seemed obvious to make their way into the mainstream classroom (eventually o.O), namely open source educational software, open source (if you will) learning content (think open courseware), collaborative learning tools (almost all of the web 2.o tools out there now) , and 3D immersive environments (with natural user interfaces ala the Ipad ;) ). Over the past few years much of these technologies seem to be making good progress towards common classroom adoption, and in some cases even approaching main stream.
In the first of two rounds, The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) awarded $10.6 million to 29 organizations, with the potential for an additional $5.4 million to be doled out later. Close to half of the initial $10.6 million went to open courseware projects that seek to publish adaptable Web-based courses for the public.
The funded initiatives focus on four areas:
“Blended learning,” the mixture of in-class time with online learning
“Deeper learning,” the use of social media and virtual worlds to increase student engagement
“Learner analytics,” analytical software to retain and use student data
The ability to provide a rich contextual learning environment IS the primary affordance these 3D immersive environments provide (I strongly contend) …. and that highly immersive rich contextual learning environment, combined with visual hardware (ala a Mobile Immersive Learning Lab to provide even ra richer sense of “being there”) are certainly emerging educational technologies whose time is soon coming …. I have contend that as these rich environments, combined with in-class MILL visual hardware (extended IWB’s) AND the ability to naturally directly manipulate & create in-world content (with natural user interfaces) allows the student to connect to content in ways simply NEVER seen before in the classroom. The next 5-8-10 years should be a very very exciting time to be involved in immersive education, both with software & hardware, as technologies and educators come to grips with the amazing possibilities. The keys will remain to extend, for example, the capabilities of the in-classroom legacy interactive whiteboards (as multi-walled units) to be more capable as contextual/visualization immersive learning stations & for the technologist/designers to remember the importance of the natural user interface in education (gestures, touch, and how those translate into 3D space for learning).
5 years ago next month Greenbush Labs was launched. Greenbush Labs was started as a platform for me to log notes, evangelize the knowledge management affordances of the newer (at the time) Web 2.0 technologies, and to “brain dump” innovative educatioanl technologies. Over the past 5 years it has grown to serve as a broader platform for innovative educational technologies and has served as a launch based for internal Greenbush projects such as the Podcast Directory (2006) , 3D Immersive Education Projects (2006) , 3D Immersive Touch & Edusim (2007), GreenbushTV(2007), the Mobile Immersive Learning Lab (2008), & Scratch as an Interactive Whiteboard Application Tool Kit (2010). Cheers to 5 more years !
The Edusim project has certainly been a benefactor of the “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” & the power of web video.
TED’s Chris Anderson says the rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation — a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print. But to tap into its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness.
Two storys today regarding “3D immersive touch” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edusim) . Providing more indications to me that our 3D immersive touch and Edusim projects (now running on 4 years) were right on target with regard to where this technology will some day lead. Touching the 3D virtual learning objects as we would any natural object, and eventually the touch surface that “shape shifts” and responds to the touch via haptics.
As many seen years ago, the only real solution for virtual worlds are those based on open platforms, especially where education is concerned. The real solutions are still proving to be Opensim/Wonderland/ and Cobalt based soluations.
As the year pass and the Edusim & Immersive Touch UI matures more interesting use cases for the 3D immersive touch user interface are starting to emerge beyond education and the classroom. Below is a group using the interface for collaborative city planning & layout !