What is Real?

Featured Image: Bare tree bathed in fresh snow against a clear blue sky

Virtual reality, my favourite oxymoron. But how do you define real? Technology has changed our world forever. A Luddite[1] will argue that the physical quality of education is lost in a digital environment. I wholeheartedly disagree with the Luddite’s mentality, and I want to talk about how digital media enhances LEARNING. A digitally enriched environment creates a more authentic learning experience in my opinion.

For example, what difference does it make in a learning environment whether the lesson is hands-on or virtual? They’re both simulated, they both allow for mistakes and practice, and they both contribute to mastery.

I took the picture of the snowy tree this morning. The snow on the tree is special because it captures something momentary. Every intricate branch and twig was bathed in fresh snow, and the sky was so blue that I had to photograph it. The picture isn’t real; it’s just a snapshot of a moment in time – you can’t touch the tree or the snow. But, I needed to capture the image so that I could remember it exactly how it was! I am struck by the similarity of using technology to clarify and capture an intended lesson, which learners can refer to in case they can’t remember all the intricate points of a class.

As I wrap up PIDP 3240 Media Enhanced Learning (please check out my assignments), I’m driven and inspired by the verb, ‘enhanced.’ Technology does not replace an in-class experience, or diminish an online environment in comparison; it simply captures and improves the quality of a learning moment.

So, what difference does it make if education is derived in a ‘real’ live environment? Instruction, demonstration, practice and application can take place in a ‘virtual’ environment as well. A slideshow, video, online game, or a field trip on a sunny day following a snowstorm are all genuine ways to learn.

Luddites are fighting a losing battle, because we all win when information is documented and shared, and not just described as being ‘real.’

[1] A person opposed to technology

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