Friday, May 19, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
When you think of the classroom of the future, what do you see?
How about students learning biology by seeing the inner workings of the human body in a digital realm? Or a math class where students solve equations by using their hands to move numbers around right in front of them? Or an English class where a student is presenting on Macbeth with holographic images of Shakespearean characters displaying alongside them?
These scenarios may sound far-fetched, but they aren't that far off. In fact, they can be achieved with a technology called mixed reality -- a rapidly growing segment of the edtech industry. Companies like Microsoft are making big investments in mixed reality for classrooms with a goal of re-shaping the way students learn.
What is Mixed Reality?
George Lucas might have been foreshadowing mixed reality when he was making the original Star Wars film in 1977. Remember the scene where R2D2 projects the hologram of Princess Leia to Obi-Wan Kenobi? That’s a classic, early example of mixed reality.
Unlike virtual reality, where the user is immersed in a setting that is entirely separate from their own and shuts out the real world, mixed reality uses virtual technology to augment the user’s real-life setting. In other words, when a student uses mixed reality, their focus stays in the classroom, and virtual images are used to enhance the learning environment, not take them out of it.
Consider the earlier example of a biology class where students are learning human anatomy. Rather than simply reading text and studying images in the book, in a mixed reality environment students would wear a headset that allows them to see and interact with a 3D version of the interior of the human body -- complete with images of major organs in action, blood flowing, and all the other complexities of the human anatomy. One company, 3D4Medical, has brought this idea to life in their prototype video for Project Esper.
Because mixed reality is augmenting the user’s real world surroundings, the technology required for mixed reality is more advanced than that of virtual reality. Essentially, in mixed reality the user’s physical environment is scanned to produce a 3D map of their surroundings. From there, the device identifies where to put digital content for the user to interact with it.
Benefits of Mixed Reality
Mixed reality is still a relatively new technology, and the education community is still learning the pros and cons of leveraging its capabilities in a cost-effective way for budget-minded schools and districts.
However, there has been mainstream use of virtual reality for several years, and this eLearning Industry article points out the many benefits, especially for young learners. From eliminating language barriers to increasing student engagement and interest, it's clear that virtual reality can be an effective and productive educational tool.
It stands to reason that that engagement will only improve with mixed reality. Where virtual reality is often a fantasy, students working with mixed reality are using it to enhance what they’re already learning.
Microsoft’s Big Play
For several years, Microsoft has been working on a technology called the HoloLens, mixed reality smartglasses designed for anyone working, studying or gaming in the virtual, augmented or mixed reality worlds. Microsoft's goal with the HoloLens extends to the education environment with big ideas on how mixed reality can create a more visually engaging learning experience.
"What we're doing is giving people the opportunity to see real items and bring them to life in a classroom. That is a very impactful way for people to figure out how they can really get a feel for an item and or to understand more about a real life item like the anatomy of the body," said Microsoft HoloLens senior director and commercial lead, Roger Walkden.
Of course, even if the HoloLens becomes a hit, most school districts likely can’t afford to buy hundreds of sets of the smartglasses for their students. Microsoft recognizes this, and recently announced a new feature to Windows 10 coming later this year, called View Mixed Reality. This program will show students 3D mixed reality on their tablet screen using a webcam:
They recently showed off its capability at an event in early May, when they demonstrated through mixed reality how they could bring a life-sized, 3D version of the Mars Rover into classrooms.
The Future of Mixed Reality
Analysts are bullish on the future of mixed reality with industry revenue estimates surging to $5.3B by 2022. However, while the use of virtual, augmented and mixed reality are all expected to grow, it will likely do so as the technology and price points become more accessible in the education environment.
At Cyber Acoustics, we have an eye to the future of education, and we design our products to be compatible with the latest Chromebooks, iPads, laptops and more. If mixed reality is a technology your school district is considering, contact us to find out how our products can help students learn in this exciting new format.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
There are months left in the school year, but you know what supplies you have remaining won’t be enough, and the school’s budget for supplies has already been maxed out. What to do? While some teachers have been known to generously reach into their own pockets to purchase supplies their students need, that’s not a tenable situation for everyone. Fortunately, there are options available.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
Online sharing isn’t just for students working on a project together, but also teachers who can share lesson plans, download worksheets and get advice on dealing with different personality types or learning styles. There’s an entire online community of educators creating resources or adding to existing ones to help make life easier for teachers.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
When you open the doors to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, it can be sensory overload. It’s like walking into a Vegas casino -- except instead of slot machines and blackjack tables, it’s VR goggles, robotics, headsets and more! Such was the case this year at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio, TX.
Friday, June 30, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
For years, parents have tried to keep learning going during the summer, much to their children's chagrin. Flash cards and workbooks have been popular tools for decades, and recently online tutorial websites have grown in popularity. But which online resources are the best?
Monday, June 19, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
They’ve all been counted out. They’ve all been on top. They’ve all been in between. The tech titan triumvirate of Google, Microsoft and Apple continue to grapple with each other in the never-ending battle for EdTech supremacy.
Friday, June 2, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
Even in this modern age, hands-on projects may sometimes be few and far between. However, kids learn more effectively when they’re invested in the material, and as the world becomes more and more dependent on technology, giving students the ability to work hands-on is vital. That’s why STEM has blossomed in recent years into a vital educational component. STEM isn’t about memorizing, it’s about doing.
Friday, May 19, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
When you think of the classroom of the future, what do you see? Companies like Microsoft are making big investments in mixed reality for classrooms with a goal of re-shaping the way students learn.
Friday, May 5, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
Digital note taking is already prevalent throughout university classes, and as kids enter middle school and high school, more and more classrooms are introducing students to using laptops or tablets to take notes in class.
Thursday, April 20, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
Whether it’s leading an activity, teaching a subject, or playing a music recording, teachers often ask students to listen, and each situation requires students to pay attention and develop listening skills. The ability to hear an instructor is critical to students’ success.
Friday, April 7, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
Technology is now part of everyday life in the classroom, and teachers continue to look for ways to leverage tech to make work easier and more effective. They often ask: How can my students and I work smarter and not harder? One simple answer is Google Forms.
Monday, March 27, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
This year at CES we saw a ton of mind-blowing technology with the intention of improving upon the world around us. One such example is the advancing technologies around the agricultural practice of hydroponic growing. Hydroponic gardening is the process used to harvest flowers and produce plants from a controlled environment, rather than the traditional in-ground farming procedures.
Friday, March 10, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
Research has shown that learning music stimulates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children use in other areas, such as stronger language development, increased IQ and improved spatial-temporal skills.
Thursday, February 23, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
To prepare for the 2017-2018 school year, many of you will be investing in Chromebooks for your students. The hours spent researching the best educational tools is critical to your purchase decision, and another important aspect is protecting the investments of time, energy, and of course, money.
Thursday, February 9, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
We only get five senses, which means that protecting each is crucial while kids are growing up. Something that can be difficult to protect from is the threat of hearing loss.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
If you’re a parent or educator, you know that kids love exploring the wealth of content that can be found on YouTube. Popular television shows, music, and other fun content is on the site to no end, and kids can spend hours watching videos on the site without ever watching the same one twice. But, YouTube offers kids more than entertainment. The site is a powerful tool and resource, and young people are finding ways to take advantage of it for their own learning and lives.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by Cyber Acoustics
For less than $100, drones can create educational opportunities that would have been impossible for schools to afford. With companies like GoPro, Parrot, Syma, and DJI constantly enhancing features while lowering the overall cost, a wealth of new opportunities are available to educators and students.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016 by Cyber Acoustics
The first Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opened its doors in the summer of 1967 in New York City, featuring 117 exhibitors showcasing the latest technology like transistor radios, stereos and black and white televisions.
Thursday, December 22, 2016 by Cyber Acoustics
Earlier this month, the worldwide “Hour of Code” week took place with more than 180 million students joining in on the international digital party.
Friday, December 9, 2016 by Cyber Acoustics
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but if one can bend reality to their own will, what use would they have for either?
Monday, November 21, 2016 by Cyber Acoustics
We are getting a lot of questions about headsets with “unidirectional” microphones. What are they and why is my school district requiring them?
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 by Cyber Acoustics
How does your opinion, beliefs, or viewpoints compare to others. Are you in the majority or minority? Being in education means that any topic can suddenly become relevant in a conversation with students or members of the community. It's important that everyone stay informed and aware of the cultural climate, but it's especially important for educators to be aware of what issues are coming in and out of the public spotlight.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 by Cyber Acoustics
Audiobooks provide a tremendous opportunity for learning and exposure when it comes to students. Not only do audiobooks allow many students who have early difficulty developing reading skills to gain access to abilities that might otherwise evade them, but audiobooks can actually do a lot to enhance the reading experience and is a less intensive outlet for absorbing narrative.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by Cyber Acoustics
Summer is over and the winter weather is already forcing kids to spend more time indoors, both at school and at home. For parents and educators, this means finding new ways to keep those students engaged in educational activities as well as entertained and stimulated with subject matter that interests them.