Situated learning

Since teaching is one of the things I do, I often look at things in terms of “how would I use this to teach something?” Recently I have caught myself in everyday situations, say at a meal or while playing a musical instrument, thinking about how I would add interactive computer graphics to teach something, perhaps a music lesson, or perhaps a foreign language.

For example, I find myself picturing little interactive animated characters hovering over things and posing challenges or games to help learning, and then I work through how I would author those characters and games — or create a way for other people to author them.

I think the fact that Google’s Project Glass is now being publicly talked about has changed my assessment of how near all this is. The other big players who are working on augmented reality glasses are still keeping mum, but it only takes one to move the conversation from the dreaming stage to the planning stage.

These events have also energized my graduate students, and certain research projects in our lab are shifting into higher gear. Twenty years ago the Web went from being a gleam in Ted Nelson’s eye to being a practical reality, eventually changing all sorts of educational practices. More recently, mobile phones have had a similar impact — particularly in the third world.

I think we are about to enter an exciting and transformational period in the development of situated learning, especially as the costs of the technology come down over time. If it is done properly, everyone can benefit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *