I attended the International Society of Technology Educators conference held in New Orleans, LA. As the LS Makery Facilitator and Technology Integration Specialist, I was interested in meeting other maker educators and staying current with emerging resources to foster creativity. I was particularly interested in immersive technology for the lower school classroom, and ways to support students in age-appropriate introductions to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Summary of ISTE conference (focus on immersive technology):
The terms virtual and augmented reality bring to mind headsets and expensive gear that offer engaging experiences for gaming or entertainment. Augmented reality is overlaying a digital image over an image in the real world. Virtual reality is surrounding the user in a fully digital environment. When introduced thoughtfully, these technologies can transport students to places outside of the classroom and foster greater empathy. There are many inexpensive resources to create these kinds of experiences for the classroom that are accessible on the iPad. The workshops I attended focused on ways to introduce AR and VR to elementary age students, and building digital citizenship skills around distinguishing what is real and what is not real.
What were your big takeaways from the immersive technologies workshop?
I was introduced to several VR and AR resources and strategies to implement/adapt to student's needs and comfort. Students should not simply consume content with immersive technology, but they should also be able to create their own content. I have a better idea of how to introduce these experiences to young learners, and which resources serve different purposes.
How does what you learned connect to your goals this year?
The use of VR and AR tools in the Makery supports student spatial awareness and understanding of two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional shapes, also ways to manipulate and design objects on TinkerCAD for 3D printing. I also gained strategies to prepare these tools for classroom instruction and address any concerns proactively.
How might this opportunity lead to collaboration with other faculty?
I can introduce these resources to classroom teachers to enhance projects, digital storytelling, or manipulate objects in 3D to get a deeper understanding of their properties. Teachers will be excited that these apps and immersive tools are straightforward to use and can tie into a book they are reading, a period of time they are studying, or give students new ways to access information and become curious.
Would you recommend this opportunity? Why or why not?
I enjoy attending the ISTE conference as most ed tech practitioners, maker educators or technology vendors have a presence there. It is a massive conference and the sheer scale of it can be intimidating for attendees. It can be like drinking from a fire hydrant, and I recommend focusing on a single topic or content area for workshops. It is a good opportunity to test out new digital tools, maker space equipment and connect with thoughtful ed tech leaders from around the world. I would tentatively recommend attending because of the scale. Also you will be doing a lot of walking in a massive convention center.
Resources from the immersive technology workshops:
- Holograms with Merge Cube
- Introduce AR/VR with Breakout rooms in Breakout EDU
- Explore 2D and 3D shapes with CoSpaces EDU