Holo-Learning

Most articles I’ve read, on education, discuss how education is affected or enhanced by technology.  This weeks readings were refreshing to me as they talk about not what exists but what could exist with respect to technology and education.  What I’m talking about specifically is the discussion on Personal Learning Environments (PLE).  Attwell states, “yet for all the talk there was no consensus on what a Personal Learning Environment might be,” (Attwell, 2007).  This statement got me thinking about the different possibilities for a PLE.  For instance, what if technology wasn’t limiting us? Or, what would a PLE look like in the future?  It didn’t take me long before one of my favourite television shows answered that question for me.

As a teenager, one of the most common questions asked was, “if you had one wish, what would it be?”  The answers were varied, but obvious: a million dollars, to have super hero powers, and to live forever.  My answer was slightly different, I wanted a Holodeck.  And still do!  A Holodeck is a computer simulated environment, where anything could be created and goes beyond the confines of the wall (or appears too).  This room exists…but only in science fiction, made famous by Star Trek.  I remember in one episode of Star Trek, the commander walked into the Holodeck and said, “Computer.  Paris, France.  1850.”  All of a sudden the walls, floor and ceiling of the room disappeared, and the commander was now standing on a computer simulated street in downtown Paris, France.  Birds were chirping, people talking and walking around, it was so real to the user.  When I saw this as a kid, my mind was racing with all the different possibilities one could use a Holodeck for: being a pilot on an X-Wing fighter, having a lightsaber battle against evil Sith, learning about the Universe with my personal teacher Albert Einstein, etc., etc.  It sounds silly, but if I was to use a Holodeck for those purposes, I would have learned aviation, teamwork, physical health, martial arts, collaboration, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics, to name a few.  And I was just 12 years old when I desired this.  Think of all the possibilities for kids today if they had their very own Holodeck?  “The idea of the PLE purports to include and bring together all learning, including informal learning, workplace learning, learning from the home, learning driven by problem solving and learning motivated by personal interest as well as learning through engagement in formal educational programmes,” (Attwell, 2007).  A Holodeck accomplishes all these tasks, and in my opinion is, theoretically, the ultimate Personal Learning Environment.

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jrenstro, (2012). Forget the Red Pill. Retrieved from http://couldthishappen.com/?p=373

But unfortunately, a Holodeck doesn’t exist.  So, what can we learn from this?

-Maybe this example could give us guidelines or direction when we do envision or create an effective PLE?

-I would argue that our ‘second self’ wouldn’t exist anymore (Case, TED).  Because our physical bodies are surrounded by the digitally created environment, in which we interact with as though it where real.

-Safety is controlled by a computer, not a teacher or guardian.

-Students are having fun, and learning more than they every could in a classroom.

-That a PLE is not only an educational tool for learning, but a tool for us to create with.

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Barylick, C. (2011). Sony brings the Holodeck to life, throws in giant sea monsters for free (video). Retrieved from http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/03/sony-brings-the-holodeck-to-life-throws-in-giant-sea-monsters-f/

REFERENCES

Video: Amber Case: We are all cyborgs now, TED Conferences http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/amber_case_we_are_all_cyborgs_now.html

Attwell, G. (2007). Personal learning environments – the future of eLearning? eLearning Papers, 2(1). Retrieved from http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:ptS3B7qa2z4J:scholar.google.com/+personal+learning+networks&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&as_vis=1

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6 comments

  1. Tulip Chang · · Reply

    Don’t you just love Japan!

  2. I want a holodeck too….

    In Sherry Turkle’s TED talk “Alone Together” she makes the statement that how we use technology now, does not resemble how we will use technology in the future. Just as Web 2.0 is completely different from how we used the Web before, so will Web X.0 be different from today’s uses and technology.

    In the 1990s science fiction series Earth 2, there was a whole episode devoted to virtual reality. Instead of the Star Trek Holodeck, they had these headsets/glasses things that did the same thing. In the episode, one of the characters no longer wanted to live in reality and spent more and more time in the virtual reality, until he wasn’t sure which reality was real anymore.

    As our virtual environment becomes more expanded, connected and versatile we need to remember what is real and what is not, what is important and what is not. A rich PLE is important, but at what cost? Obviously we can’t go learn physics from Albert Einstein, but we need to remember that a virtual learning environment is still just a substitute for the real thing. A holodeck is great for things you can’t do in real life, but don’t forget to do the things in real life that you actually can. Don’t do virtual blood typing when you can do the real thing, don’t play Wii soccer when the sun is shining and the grass is green, and don’t “like” your friend’s status when you could phone them up and have a real conversation.

    So Holodeck away for things you can’t do in real life, and leave the rest of it to real life :)

  3. References for reply:

    Video: Sherry Turkle: Alone Together, TED Conferences (2011)

  4. The Holodeck in my opinion is the holy grail of entertainment and education. In fact I will go so far as to call it the ultimate educational tool. So what about this technology makes it the ultimate educational tool? The answer is realism and interactivity. In reality a Holodeck is just a 3-D simulator. The difference between a Holodeck and any other simulator we have now is that it would be considered the most powerful, dynamic and interactive 3-D simulator ever. This simulator can not only simulate real world conditions for every humans sense but it can also be programmed to simulate conditions never experienced by any human. It reconstructs matter in a specific space. The only restriction for this simulator seems to be the laws of physics as accepted at that time and what can be programmed based on the technology that is available at that time (Holodeck, n.d.).

    Since a working Holodeck is still decades or centuries away from being created, your post got me thinking about what is out there now which would be “close” to this technology. Coincidentally when reading this post it reminded me about an educational ideology that I had not thought about in a while. That philosophy being the Montessori learning ideology. This ideology requires the re-creation of a prepared environment so that the children have the appropriate setting in which to learn ( ). With this ideology in mind I asked myself a few questions about the use of a Holodeck in education.

    If I had an unlimited budget right now how close could I get to making an actual “Holodeck” ? Could it exist in a classroom? After a brief investigation I found that the basic principles for a Holodeck already exist today. Meaning that in order to build a Holodeck for education one would need to incorporate technology that appeals to all of a student’s senses. First off, I would need a supercomputer and have a powerful internet connection for that particular classroom. Secondly, the classroom itself would have to be massive in terms of square footage as it would serve as the Holodeck. For vision I would utilize augmented reality through the use of “project glasses” (Project Glasses, n.d.) which would be able to view QR codes. This would enable students to see simulated objects in 3-D while being able to physically move around the existing classroom. I would also have several projectors in a classroom in order to project backgrounds on the walls in order to make students’ feel as if they have entered into a new environment. The lighting (color and intensity) would also be controlled by the supercomputer and change according to simulated environment.

    I would have speakers built into the ceiling, walls and floor in order to create real surround sound. The speakers would play ambient sounds to better recreate the simulated environment. It would even play noises that associate to the actions of students in the simulated environment. To get that level of interactivity and realism students would need to wear motion capture suits which broadcast their position and other biometric data to the supercomputer. As for smell, this could be remedied by installing a HVAC system (on the school) which allows for chemicals to be combined in the ducts in order simulate the ambient smells of an environment. Taste I believe would be the most difficult to simulate, so it would not be simulated. Every environment would need to have real edible and non edible elements which a teacher would introduce into the classroom before the simulation begins (maybe candy that tastes like fruit, or actual fruit, rocks, etc…). As for touch, props could be introduced with similar textures and weight as to mimic small objects found in the simulated environment. QR codes could then be placed on them to make them appear as indigenous elements. Or as with taste, just introduce small elements from the indigenous environment in order to enhance the simulation.

    If this classroom came to fruition, the questions now becomes how do I design appropriate activities for this simulator and how are these activities evaluated? If students are able to see, touch, hear, smell and taste alternate environments, should activities also need to focus on utilizing more then one sense? If so, should they be mandatory to evaluate based on all senses? Thinking along these lines I ask myself, is education too auditory and visual nowadays? Have we neglected other educational opportunities that utilizing other sense or all senses simultaneously would provide? Or are other senses just designed to support hearing and sight?

    References
    Holodeck. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodeck

    Montessori, M., & Gutek, G. L. (Eds.). (2004). The Montessori Method, The Origins of
    an Educational innovation: Including an Abridged and Annotated Edition of
    Maria Montessori’s The Montessori Method. United States, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

    Project Glasses. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Glass

  5. Sorry, I noticed I was missing a reference in paragraph two. So here it is.Credit must be given where it is due.

    Since a working Holodeck is still decades or centuries away from being created, your post got me thinking about what is out there now which would be “close” to this technology. Coincidentally when reading this post it reminded me about an educational ideology that I had not thought about in a while. That philosophy being the Montessori learning ideology. This ideology requires the re-creation of a prepared environment so that the children have the appropriate setting in which to learn (Montessori & Gutek, 2004). With this ideology in mind I asked myself a few questions about the use of a Holodeck in education.

  6. stevenburchill · · Reply

    Of course even the mention of a Holodeck will get any sci-fi buff excited. I can tell the two of you have also dreamt of owning a Holodeck. Who wouldn’t! So I appreciate your work David in trying to recreate a Holodeck experience with todays technology. A very bold and thought out design. As you mentioned it would be very expensive, bordering on the extreme like Citizen Kane’s Xanadu.
    But you did bring up an excellent point, “have we neglected other educational opportunities that utilizing other sense or all senses simultaneously would provide?”
    I’m an avid watcher of NOVA. In one episode they discussed how smell is our first sense, and the one that is the most hardwired to our brains (specifically memory). You could smell a sent that you haven’t smelled since you were a child and because of that smell you remember vivid memories of your past that you previously had forgotten. Thinking along these lines I wonder how you could use smell to connect ideas with students, or how to merge that into a PLE? Sir Ken Robinson advocates for motion to be apart of learning, that students learn through motion.
    As we don’t know what an effective PLE would look like in the future, it would have to be one complicated techno marvel that would incorporate all our senses in one ultimate learning tool.

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