On immersive technologies and the library: a visit with author Jamie Donally

Imagine the possibilities. of immersive virtual field trips–a walk through the solar system, the experience of a tornado, a tour around a refugee camp of a science lab with the opportunity to fully explore, rotate and dissect a 3D model of the human body. of your students designing their own 360-degree, interactive, immersive stories with augmented […]

learningtransportedImagine the possibilities.

  • of immersive virtual field trips–a walk through the solar system, the experience of a tornado, a tour around a refugee camp
  • of a science lab with the opportunity to fully explore, rotate and dissect a 3D model of the human body.
  • of your students designing their own 360-degree, interactive, immersive stories with augmented and virtual reality creation tools.

If you want a meaningful and immediate introduction to these possibilities and many, many more, I recommend a look at Jaime Donally’s new practical guidebook, Learning Transported: Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality for All Classrooms.  (Check out this excerpt and the table of contents.)

A former math teacher, Jaime

lives and breathes AR/VR. But walking around with a viewer on our heads may not be the direction. What can we do today in practical and important ways, leveraging the free or affordable tools we already have to enhance classroom learning?  We don’t need someone else to tell us what the future looks like. We don’t need high-price devices or software.

We are not limited by four walls or by weather or by geography or time. We can learn from others in new ways. Our students can be experts for other classrooms. We have new real-time opportunities to collaborate and we can let our students design them. While we’re seeing serious global forecasts about investments in AR/VR, most classrooms have never experienced this technology. I hear the enthusiasm. I know there’s a “wow factor.” Buy-in is important, but we need to understand how we move beyond those wows. When we make purchases, we need to fully think through our decisions. We need to consider, is there a depth of learning?  Understanding the potential for what is likely to become an important part of our world is critical.  And it’s important to remember that it’s always about the people, the relationships.

Jaime offers professional development nationally. She shares resources with other educators on her website ARVRinEDU.com, where you can opt to sign up for her newsletter. To make regular discoveries, use the #ARVRinEDU hashtag, which is also a weekly Twitter chat on Wednesdays at 9:00PM Eastern. She is also part of ISTE’s 3D Network and Global Collaboration PLN Leadership, leads discussions of immersive technologies using Voxer, and her latest adventure is the startup Global Maker Day.

Learning Transported, the 90-page book offers a background, a compelling rationale for use of immersive technologies in education, chapters on planning for successful implementation, customizable lesson plans, inspirations for open collaboration and exploration, strategies for engaging learners in creation and storytelling, and considering the future.

Jaime and I began our conversation by discussing some vocabulary introduced in the book:

  • AR (augmented reality): an enhanced version of reality by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of soemthing being viewed through a device . . . AR often uses a trigger image or target to activate the digital layer. 
  • VR (virtually reality): “bring the opportunity to view a digital experience without using your device camera. . . . an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (such as sights and sounds) provided a computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.
  • MR (Mixed Reality) links digital objects to real-world objects while using our natural gestures to interact with the content. MR combines digital interaction with the experience of the real world.

Having been on AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning Committee for a couple of years now, it’s hard to ignore how immersive learning technologies have taken hold as opportunities for exploration beyond our walls, for new types of experiences beyond our textbooks, for enabling connection, increasing empathy, for enabling previously unimaginable face-to-face collaborative experiences, and for moving opportunities to create well beyond the 2D experience. It’s hard to imagine not fully realizing the potential for our mobile devices as learning tools.

Here’s part of our conversation about the role librarians might play in introducing immersive technologies to faculty and students. We discussed purchasing for our collections; understanding possible intellectual property issues; opportunities for engaging in digital citizenship and empathy; engaging young readers in new forms of reading and engaging young authors in new forms of storytelling; and the potential importance of our role curating AR, VR and MR experiences.

Here are a few of Jaime’s current favorite resources:

  • Storyfab: Create short, narrated augmented reality films with virtual actors, scenes and special effects and …
  • Metaverse: allows educators to create AR and VR activities using a storyboard, scenes and blocks.
  • ARKit: design 3D worlds in your own space, kinda like the new diorama. Save what you create and upload and showcase.
  • Google Street View: Create your own 360 images.  Take them with your phone, android or tablet.
  • Figment AR:  Augment reality with objects, portals, and effects.  Walk into your portal and upload your own 36o images and videos
  • RoundMe: Make your 360 images interactive by adding hotspots and connect multiple 360 images by suing portals to jump from one experience to another without interruption.
  • CoSpacesEDU: Create VR worlds by dragging and dropping items into a 360 space and animate them using code.
  • Merge Cube: Hold a hologram in your hands and create your own 3D objects. Merge Cube works with such apps as:
    • Dino Digger: Dig up dinosaur bones, build them into 3D skeletons, and bring those skeletons to life
    • AnatomyAR+: Hold body organs in your hands
    • HoloGLOBE:  From NASA, hold a real-time, interactive version of the earth in your hands

Follow @jaimedonally

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