Lockheed Martin's Generation Beyond initiative aims to "inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers." And what better way to spark young students' curiosity than to give them ride on a bus that simulates a ride across the Martian surface? Passengers aboard the Mars Experience bus are treated to an immersive virtual reality adventure. As the bus moves, it makes the students feel like they're driving across the red planet by showing 200 square miles of its surface on the boarded-up windows.
Some folks at Lockheed Martin took a boring old school bus and gave it a bit of magic: they designed the cabin to be an immersive, full-rendered VR experience for kids to learn more about Mars while driving around city streets like normal. Built on the Unreal engine, the bus uses several sensors to monitor the real world and translate that to a VR experience. Bus goes 30, Mars goes 30; bus turns left, Mars turns left. They even mapped the surface of Mars onto city streets in Washington, D.C. to create a more detailed exploratory experience. The whole project is fascinating to see going on--and hopefully something that will catch on nationally.
When Moocs burst onto the scene five years ago, many predicted business schools' demise. Wharton professors Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich wrote Moocs are a "Trojan Horse" with the potential to "destroy" the full-time MBA. But rather than killing the campus, they have become an example of the whizzy digital innovations being embraced by even the oldest Ivy League institutions. "You can expect us to take engaged learning to another level where we implement technology. We're already moving in that direction," says Alison Davis-Blake, dean of the University Of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
At CoSN's 2018 conference, "Exponential Change: Designing Learning in the 4th Industrial Revolution," Jason Swanson and I led a session exploring potential uses of wearables, augmented reality and virtual reality in education. We think that these emerging digital depth technologies could support the creation of responsive learning environments, increasing student engagement, personalization, understanding of others' experiences and perspectives, self-awareness, critical thinking and student agency. But we know from previous technology cycles that such benefits are not a given. To help session participants think through potential uses and implications, we invited them to explore five future vignettes describing possible ways in which wearables, augmented reality and virtual reality might be used in ten years' time. Information collected from a wearable device helps to deliver just-in-time supports for a fourth-grade student having difficulty approaching a homework assignment.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) were supposed to bring a revolution in education. But they haven't lived up to expectations. We have been putting educators in front of cameras and shooting video -- just as the first TV shows did with radio stars, microphone in hand. This is not to say the millions of hours of online content are not valuable; the limits lie in the ability of the underlying technology to customize the material to the individual and to coach. That is about to change, though, through the use of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and sensors.