J. LeMoine1, A. Jutraz2

2University of Ljubljana (SLOVENIA)
The promise of truly global education feels viable, but not all virtual classrooms can deliver well. While virtual classrooms can increase the global reach to both learners and educators, they can also remove many critical characteristics of conventional, physical classrooms. Educators have proven for 100s of years that active is better than passive learning.

For some classes (think: university Freshman year biology) with often more than 500 students per class, engagement may not seem like a big issue compared to say a Junior year, Master’s class or a K-12 class. However, even in large introductory classes, smart class design has always included labs or teams or study projects where learners work together or get mentoring in smaller groups to increase engagement. The virtual classroom technology in use can be very limited in this way if it is streaming or screen sharing with tiny video window based technology.

On-line classrooms of all styles, including screen sharing, streaming videos and MOOCs, may be revolutionizing our thinking about classrooms but all too often these virtual classrooms are not designed for engagement among learners and educators. We cannot let the virtual classroom become a one-way flow to the “audience” of learners, we must do better than this. Additionally, one-way flow type classroom tools cannot begin to provide the kind of interaction required for global research which is so critical to Universities today. Engagement is a critical factor in ensuring knowledge retention and learning process enjoyment, making this topic one of the biggest to address as we evolve global/virtual education today.

This talk will discuss adding immersive interaction (collaboration + gaming aspects + creative virtual location design) and address how it can help restore some of these lost characteristics of engagement and active learning to the virtual class. In fact, when applied appropriately, immersion and 3D gaming, can introduce experiences that greatly enhance learning in ways that would be impossible in the physical world. We will cover 4 broad categories of adding more engagement back into this distance learning equation that can help tip the scales back in the right direction for virtual or globally distributed learners and educators. We will also cover specific use cases by Universities and Corporate educators that have done this including the University of Ljubljana and Global Dr. Training from industry.