"Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog." - Mark Twain, [Nom De Plume of Samuel Langhorne Clemens], American Writer.
The 'chalk and talk' method of teaching focuses on the blackboard, the teacher's voice and certain physical activities.
Are we missing out on the most important factor i.e the 'eyes' and a mystical communication that exists whenever there is a nice lecture?
This is my primary motivation to think of ushering in technology that is visually richer and engrossing than the 'chalk and talk' method. When I began my teaching career, it was the case of ensuring a few page(s) of hand-written class notes, the textbook, the student's attendance register, chalk piece(s) and the duster being taken to every lecture. Erasing the blackboard before leaving the classroom after the lecture was an indicator of discipline. Ideally the chalk pieces are consumed during the lecture and the teacher walks back with one item less than what he or she went in to the classroom with. The short spell of using transparencies was not quite effective in terms of return on investments that include costing the transparencies, the pens and the over head projector with the maintenance costs of the light bulb shooting up.
"Immersive technology refers to technology that attempts to emulate a physical world through the means of a digital or simulated world, thereby creating a sense of immersion"
Switching to powerpoint presentations after a decade in my teaching career was seldom easy to adapt. In theory the lectures are visually richer but in practice all images do not speak more than thousand words. Making quality powerpoint presentations is more time consuming for typical teachers than writing the class notes. It is easy to teach engineering drawing with the mini - drafter, divider, set square, compass, a set of pencils and eraser than do the same using a sequence of [animated] images. However, the impact teaching geometry with rich visuals of gymnasts going through their performance is appreciated. For that one needs a live video with subtitling and commentary. The technology push in improving the visualization is thus quite necessary.
"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not." - Thomas H. Huxley, an English Biologist and Anthropologist [dubbed as Darwin's Bulldog] specializing in Comparative Anatomy.
'Writing for the Web' has been the next step in improving the visualization. Realization dawned that not all subjects that are to be taught have the innate qualities for the web as a technology for teaching. It takes away the wonderful gift of focus that formal education ensures. Also, subjects that ought to be learnt through the dint of practice are not really for deploying this technology. 'Virtual Laboratories' and very soon the 'Virtual Classroom' were proving to be more challenging tasks.
Immersive technology refers to technology that attempts to emulate a physical world through the means of a digital or simulated world, thereby creating a sense of immersion. Hardware technologies are developed to stimulate one or more of the five senses to create perceptually-real sensations. These technologies provide the ability to interact and communicate with the virtual environment. Software interacts with the hardware technology to render the virtual environment and process the user input to provide dynamic, real-time response.
Many universities have programs that research and develop immersive technology. Some examples where I have made some study are Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, the University of Southern California [USC]'s Computer Graphics and Immersive Technologies Lab and Iowa State Virtual Reality Applications Center.
Is the Brain - Computer Interface More Effective than Listening to a Teacher?
Pervasiveness is central to immersive technologies that result in many things associated with teaching becoming smart. Formal listening to a lecture accords Persuasiveness that brings in the desired learning, attitude and ethical behavior without coercion.
The catalogue of technologies that qualify as immersive needs an imaginative expansion with the persuasive technologies. This is difficult even with advanced sensors augmenting all the five senses and the fascinating interaction design with them. One can enumerate scores of technologies that make the grade in these aspects of teaching - learning. Of late they are with the tag 'Smart'. The picture of the new age learner is one of a youngster surrounded with a plethora of technologies that connect to the entire content in the world.
The need for external human motivators such as a parent or a teacher is once again into sharper focus and debate.
"Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honor for me." - (Late) Prof. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Former President of India.