Tuesday, 9 June 2015

 Accelerated Immersive Learning

If you have infant children (or have close relatives that has young children); you might recall some delightful experiences when they are just two years old. When they not only begun to string sentences together for the first time, but had deep semantic understanding of problems and tasks at hand? I recall my daughter doing exactly that. How on earth did she manage to pick up complex strings of grammar in such a short time, and then appreciate their context and relevance at two years old?
Take humour! It is arguably one of the most complex heuristic functions: meaning, juxtaposition of contradictory context leading to a punch line and unexpected consequence. My daughter would have me in hysterics even at her tiny age with her funny quips or facial expressions in synch with some spontaneous situation. So, how is it that a little toddler manages to learn so fast?
The prime answer, immersion! Little kids are immersed in the middle of an environment with parents, siblings and other family members. In conversations, they pick up the syntax and semantics at a hugely accelerated rate.
Now here’s the question: ‘Why has it taken me many years to master the German language?’ There are both physiological and psychological reasons for this going on in my adult brain. But one thing is true, my brain physiology is different in my adult life than as a small child. And facts are facts little kids learn more quickly than even their 12, 20, 50 year old counterparts.
But being immersed further amplifies and accelerates learning because you are cognitively engaged in a tangible setting. The simulation is physically visceral, not only is your brain more engaged, you body is too.
So why are schools and universities organised in sterile classrooms, and the pupils then merely spending less than half their time in four or five different classrooms (as in pupils walking fairly long distances between classrooms, breaktimes, lunch)? This is not real-world. It is artificial, unnatural and highly unproductive. Plus, the period of time that kids actually spend in the classroom, they are only engaged for a third-to-half of that time. Things like settling down, opening books, other kid pranks, monotony, teachers doing the same, etc. So in total, kids are at best learning for only about a quarter of the total time. If a typical school week is 30 hours, that's 7.5 hours of active engaged learning a week! Just over seven hours a week!
Alternatively, immersive learning environments, that are designed as multidimensional tools to accelerate learning, are now coming on-line. Kids are collocated in a single class (accept for physical education). And teachers run between classes. This make sense. For example, I went to a high school with almost a 1000 kids, so that's 30,000 collective manhours a week. There were 50 teachers, so that's 1,500 manhours. So 30,000 v 1,500. For a child with perfect attendance, 10,080 hours will be spent in school from fifth grade (age 10) to high school graduation. Then having teachers move between classes is much better, because in fact collectively the kids do most of the work.
My conclusion is if kids are given immersive learning environments and tools, and stay in the same class (mostly), they would all do better at school! They will all speak basic French in a few months! And after a year, quite well?
And as for the financial cost of doing this? What is the cost of 55 percent of kids (UK statistic) leaving school with very little academic and real-world learning achievements?
In the US, the average young person racks up 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21. Statisticlly, that’s about the same as spend in a classroom for all of middle and high school if they have perfect attendance. It's a remarkable amount of time we're investing in games.  5 million gamers in the US spend more than 40 hours a week playing games. The equivalent of a full time job!
Gameplay may not contribute to the Gross Domestic Product… but scientific research shows that gameplay does contribute to our quality of life, by producing positive emotions (such as optimism, curiosity and determination) and stronger social relationships (when we play with real-life friends and family – especially if the game is co-operative). And for gamers who prefer tough, challenging games, they can build up our problem-solving resilience -- so we learn faster from our mistakes, and become resilient in the face of failure.
Virtual classes start at a different time every morning, depending on when your children are ready for school. Global superstar teachers lecture to classes scattered across the globe, using telepresence and 3D technologies. Classes are in all languages as a result of automatic real-time translation. Interactive media links diverse and dispersed groups of educators and students in ad hoc groups to establish new forms of collective assessments and qualifications
Virtual learning agents guide you through the massive quantity and different forms of education on offer. To meet your personal needs, the agent will assemble educational offers into a set of functions and roles, producing lifelong and needs-based learning plans tailor-made for you. You can of course adjust your personal learning plan at any time, and there will be automatic updates. Learning experiences are immersed in and mediated by a learning community as opposed to merely digital, computer-bound and isolating e-learning
Your children are much more technologically adapt than you, just as they were in 2010. Fully connected and equipped to live in a world which is simultaneously real and virtual, your child negotiates reality games and real-life interactions equally well. A culture of layered realities has become common and is having a positive impact on learning, involving cooperative, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills as found in digital games today. Younger members of society are mentors for their elders with regards to methods of urban and digital survival, computing and networking

Your children are much more technologically adapt than you, just as they were in 2010. Fully connected and equipped to live in a world which is simultaneously real and virtual, your child negotiates reality games and real-life interactions equally well. A culture of layered realities has become common and is having a positive impact on learning, involving cooperative, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills as found in digital games today. Younger members of society are mentors for their elders with regards to methods of urban and digital survival, computing and networking
Multiple gunshot wounds. Mass casualties. A biohazard incident. It may sound like a typical episode of ER, but a virtual rendering of such serious situations could provide valuable training for future medical professionals. Stanford School of Medicine's Immersive Learning Center will allow medical students to integrate their classroom understanding in parallel with simulation-based practice. By creating a virtual microcosm of a hospital, for example, students can seamlessly maneuver through a variety of medical settings, without worrying about making mistakes.

"The goal is to have experiential learning be completely imbedded in the experience, starting at the beginning of a student's education and maintained through their careers," said David Gaba, professor of anesthesia and associate dean for immersive and simulation-based learning.


Emphasizing technique over technology, the center provides students with a range of simulations, from a single patient setting to a mass casualty. A "Wet/dry" classroom gives students an opportunity to practice suturing and giving injections. Mannequins serve as rehearsal for applying splints or casts.  Actors help students prepare for patient care. A role-playing virtual world would allow students to represent nurses or doctors in a trauma ward and respond to a patient's changing condition.
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