What is Immersive Technology?
Immersive technology creates a realistic digital landscape that allows users to feel as if they are inside and interacting with that environment. Some common types of immersive technology include Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality.
The uses of immersive technology are still multiplying. Augmented Reality (AR), which involves placing digital images over the real world, became famous with Pokémon Go in 2016. Virtual Reality (VR) has been used in everything from art to healthcare.
Immersive technology also has potential in the classroom. For teachers curious about the possibilities, Fresno Pacific University offers an independent study class for teachers called Teaching With Immersive Technology.
Immersive Technology in the Classroom
It’s easy to see the potential of immersive technology. Students could walk virtually through a tour of a famous historical site, for example, without ever leaving the classroom. Teachers can create learning games using the same AR technology that powers Pokémon Go. Some immersive technologies offer the bonus of allowing students to manipulate objects within the digital environment.
As noted on the webpage of the Teaching With Immersive Technology class, these types of technology were “once relegated to the realm of science fiction.” But that is no longer the case.
The course is taught by Jordan Samsonas, who holds a master’s degree in history and built a virtual reality lab for the middle school where he teaches. His course prepares teachers to begin using immersive technology in their own classrooms.
The course educates teachers on:
- Creating a lesson plan that uses virtual reality as a resource
- Using the hardware and software that is necessary to use virtual reality in the classroom
- Understanding the strengths and limitations of virtual reality
- Participating in the larger community of teachers using virtual reality resources
Why Use Immersive Technology?
Immersive technology allows teachers to expand upon their lesson plan and show students something they might otherwise never see. A lesson on ancient Greece or the Roman Empire can come alive through a virtual walking tour of sites associated with those once-great cultures.
Immersive technology also allows students to conceptualize information differently. For example, the “Sprout Pro” from HP helps students learn STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) by placing them in augmented realities that emphasize hands-on experiences. Schools are using the technology to get students—especially young girls—interested in STEAM-related careers, according to EdTech.
Another potential use is in enhancing storytelling, augmenting spoken stories with visuals provided through immersive technology. For example, the technology could allow students to walk through the landscape described in a novel or poem.
These are just some of the many ideas for the use of immersive technology in the classroom. For teachers who want to be on the cutting edge of their profession, it’s an area worth considering in their plans for continuing education.