Technology Can Play a Vital Role in Integrating Equity and Inclusion into Learning Environments
Updated: Feb 27
Traditional learning environments usually incorporate a text-based approach, which means that information is disseminated to learners through books, articles, lectures, and written assignments. Imagine teaching learners in the United States about the influence of Egyptian history using text material; how long do you think it will take a learner to disengage?
Now imagine the wall on the north side of the classroom changing from a white surface to images of pyramids and architectural landmarks that learners can touch to explore the inside of the architectural structures. Imagine the south side of the wall displaying musical instruments influenced by Ancient Egypt, and when learners touch the harp, flute, or pipe, the respective music plays. Instead of listening to the teacher talk about mummification, what if the east side of the wall showed the process the Egyptians used to mummify a body is shown? How long do you think learners will stay engaged?
Text-based learning is ineffective for all learners, as some learners may engage better with interactive and hands-on learning, and immersive technology has the potential to immerse a learner into the subject matter, thereby increasing the learners’ engagement and learners experience.
An immersive learning experience is a type of education where the learner is fully immersed in the subject matter, often through technology, simulations, and interactive activities. The goal is to create a more engaging and realistic learning environment, leading to improved information retention and a deeper understanding of the material.
Immersive technology can play a vital role in bringing equity and inclusion into learning environments because technology can stimulate learners by simultaneously engaging all of their senses. Unfortunately, traditional learning environments do not often simultaneously engage all sense modalities, such as visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. Unimodal approaches can result in a lack of engagement and attention for some students, potentially leading to difficulty retaining information and creating an inequitable environment for some learners.
Designing an equitable and immersive learning experience for students involves understanding how an alternative method, such as immersive technology, can help students who are not engaged by teaching methods that only disseminate information that focuses on one or two modalities.
Below are technologies that have the potential to enhance learners' experiences:
Virtual reality (VR): Virtual reality technology immerses learners in a computer-generated environment, allowing them to interact with the virtual world realistically. This can be used for many subjects, such as history, science, and engineering.
Augmented reality (AR): Augmented reality overlays digital information on the real world, allowing the learner to interact with real-world objects in new ways. This can be used for many subjects, such as history, science, and engineering.
Gamified learning: Gamified learning uses game design elements, such as points, levels, and rewards, to make learning more engaging and interactive. This can be used for a wide range of subjects, such as math, language, and history.
Simulation-based learning: Simulation-based learning uses computer simulations to create realistic experiences that closely mimic real-world scenarios. This can be used for a wide range of subjects, such as medicine, engineering, and finance.
All immersive and interactive learning experiences should be designed with the learner in mind, considering their individual needs and learning styles and providing opportunities for practice and feedback.
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