Motlow State Community College is partnering with educators throughout Tennessee to use immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality in the learning environment. These tools, collectively known as XR or Immersive Learning, have proven to provide powerful learning outcomes in many fields. Tullahoma High School recently joined the XR Community of Practice with Motlow, adding to the growing number of educational institutions turning to immersive learning.
"Virtual Reality-based Immersive Learning is based on 'influencing your brain' to believe you are in a different place/time/location doing something that has learning value," said Dr. Tony Millican, EVP of Workforce and Community Development at Motlow. "Augmented Reality, however, is about getting your brain to accept synthetic information coming to the senses as though the information were real."
One VR-based platform that allows people to meet together in a virtual space for learning is ENGAGE--a platform Millican has used for four years. The Motlow-led XR Community of Practice will become a regular forum inside the ENGAGE platform in 2021-22. In addition to working with local educators to help develop the educator workforce in the region, Motlow also plans to host regular ENGAGE forums to inspire the broader community to improve teaching practices.
For the past year, Motlow has been sharing virtual reality experiences with educators. A focus of those visits is multi-user environments provided by platforms like ENGAGE. Below are some of the comments provided by local high school teachers when experiencing the multi-user virtual environment at Motlow:
- "This provides a whole new approach to reach distance learners in a personal way."
- "Virtual simulations that focus on interactions among students make the learning material more dynamic and stimulating."
- "You seem to 'feel' the other person's presence in virtual space."
Using both of these new immersive learning tools requires some initial familiarization, but most importantly, access to content. "Our Community of Practice is built for educators who want to develop and share best practices with immersive learning skills and content," added Millican.