I enjoyed this module, but I need to spend more time researching and absorbing VR/AR to truly understand it better and be able to incorporate it more into my curriculum. I am proud of my virtual tour that I created but am disappointed that Google is discontinuing the service because I would like to use it in my class. I see that you can export and import it into Google Earth, so that is promising; however, I have not yet had a chance to investigate how well this transition will work. The issue I have with the virtual tour is if it will be versatile enough to be incorporated into my curriculum. It seems extremely specific, and I did find an effective use for it without too much struggle. I could see how it might serve specific concepts well, such as social studies topics or biomes in science. As a connections teacher, I cover these topics to an extent, but for some, I think it might be much more difficult to incorporate. I can see three of the 4 c’s being utilized clearly with Google Tour and Metaverse, but collaboration is the “c” that I don’t see. Both of these augment communication well and provide another means of representing content. The tools really help boost critical thinking, because they help build connections between concepts and provide visuals and context that are harder to understand in a more traditional approach to pedagogy. Both provide an effective way to incorporate creativity into your lessons. However, I wish I had the ability to better format my content. For example, I incorporated a web address in Google Tour, but it only showed up as plain text. I would much more useful if you had the ability to click on the link. I love 360 photos and 360 videos. I think it will continue to grow in popularity, especially as more people are viewing web content as entertainment. I have been wanting to purchase a 360 camera for a while now.
The lack of technology available for classroom teachers illustrates the digital divide at my school the most. I am blessed to have a computer lab with thirty-three student workstations; however, most classroom teachers have 1 or 2 computers at most. In a normal year during testing, myself, and the business teacher here at McClure must give up our classrooms for weeks for testing. I know that in other school systems, all classroom teachers have laptops for all their students in their classes. Do you have laptops or desktops for the majority or all your students? The Coronavirus disruption has made our technology gap much worse because our school and system have loaned out all the laptops that we had available for classroom teachers. Overall, I really don’t think the Coronavirus has contributed necessarily to widening any educational technology gaps. Some may argue that it has helped some students understand and use technology even more. I have used more technology this year than usual. I don’t think the virtual learning that has been an outcome of Corona has been a positive overall, but regarding technology, it has been successful in my school system. I feel that Cobb County did a better than average job providing equity for students during this challenging time. Our LMS, the Cobb Teaching and Learning System (CTLS) "is a digital learning environment which precisely identifies what students know, supports student learning, engages parents, and empowers teachers with one goal: student success." (Cobb County School District, first paragraph).
CTLS has streamlined and provided many tools to enrich instruction. Within the system, you can also receive training. The support for the system by staff in the county has been positive. The problem I see is that many other systems do not have the same resources and technology available to them. Just within the state of Georgia, I believe that Coronavirus has revealed that we are not even remotely ready for 100% digital learning.
Two things I am doing now that I did not do previously are that I accept all my assignments online via CTLS now. To say it has been a learning curve is an understatement, but I know that in the future, it will be easier for the students. Another concern that I have had is planning lessons that both face-to-face and virtual students can do at the same time. I enjoy game-based learning (GBL) and am trying to embrace it more. GBL has challenges but utilizing Minecraft Education has been a real lifesaver for me. It does a fantastic job supporting all subjects, including social emotional learning. The students love it and are engaged. I use it to teach computer programming and have been amazed at how well things have been going with it. Both my face-to-face students, as well as my virtual learners, have been able to access the same content. Other websites like Khan Academy, Code.org, and Common Sense media do an amazing job helping bridge the gaps that have arisen over the Coronavirus disruption. Without the disruption, I don’t think I would have incorporated these resources quite as much.
Cobb County School District. (n.d.). CTLS — Cobb CTLS. Cobb Teaching and Learning System.
Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://cobbctls.com/