How Artificial Reality is Saving Learners from Media Overload


What do you imagine when you think of the future of learning? Meeting Plato in a time-traveling history lesson?

These experiences are already being explored like this VR World War II history lesson in England. (via

Artificial Reality (AR) allows the past to come alive, letting visual learners flourish, field trips that would otherwise be impossible become possible, but now the question is, what’s next?

How do we know that new technologies are any different than traditional learning models? What about the learners’ experience, aren’t they already bombarded with too much media and stimulation 24/7?

At SXSW Edu March 2017, in Austin, Texas AR was highly visible.

“As the broader AR/VR technology market has drawn over $2 billion in venture capital investment and competing products from the likes of Facebook (Oculus), Google (DayDream, Cardboard), Microsoft (HoloLens), Samsung, and Sony (Playstation), applications in education are following quickly,” says EdTechTimes.

This graph shows the millions being spent in AR is on a continual rise and doesn’t show it’s going to let up. (via TechCrunch)

What’s really exciting is the new ways technology is being implemented.

Using bleeding-edge technology to create virtual tutors, companies like Pearson are creating the ultimate complimentary tool to teachers (and not, what some in education fear, replacing them.) In this interview with Angie McAllister about AI technology at Pearson elaborates:

“What we’re developing is a Virtual Tutor (VT) powered by augmented and artificial intelligence, in a very close partnership with IBM Watson. What it does is that it provides instructional and learning impact value. It’s a natural language conversation those questions and responses are generated in real-time based on where the learner’s stuck and what they need from point “A” to point “B” in order to achieve their goals. Also, and probably most critically, we are providing analytics to instructors who are the Art and Science masters of their course after all. At the end of the day, they’re the ones responsible for the learner’s progress,” said McAllister, SVP Personalized Learning & Analytics, at Pearson.

As technology progresses, competing for learners’ attentions in a traditional sense such as “sage on the stage,” models willas the workforce skills we will need are not knowledge-based.

Learning will become an immersive experience that draws the futuristic learner in and away from their over-loaded, tech and media bombarded minds. Learning will consist of artificial reality for increased empathy, creativity, intercultural sensitivity, and social-emotional intelligence.

We’re in an exciting phase in history when instructors and Ed-Tech companies are beginning to make sense of our futures. The sentiment is wonderfully characterized in this quote “Perhaps the most Utopian application of technology will be seen in terms of bridging cultures and fostering understanding among young students,” says TechCrunch.

The strategy is to create empathy. As one school is doing, they are preparing their students to live in a hyper-tech world as we move into the 2020 era and beyond.

“Virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, haptic feedback; the line between these and many other technological realities is becoming blurred and they are beginning to be grouped under one umbrella term: artificial reality,” says The Telegraph.

“How our school is using Virtual Reality to prepare pupils for a future dominated by technology is we are moving away from simply ‘learning’ a subject or topic to ‘feeling’ the content. This is not simply an engagement tool or a gimmick, it allows a student to explore, to experience or to be involved in something as if they are actually present in that environment or place,” says The Telegraph.

Isn’t getting learners involved and emotionally charged to make a difference in the world a familiar goal for instructors? It seems it’s just the execution of that goal that the future and technology will change.

What’s you take on Artificial Reality and Digital Learning? 

More about learner engagement with this blog here.

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