Charting the future of training and education
Charting the future of training and education
Envisioning Travel in VR, with Winged Whale Media’s Jason Palmer
XR tech is great for the extended classroom, but it’s not the only way it can be used to teach. Jason Palmer explains how Winged Whale Media is using VR and 360 video to train tour guides on travel destinations they can’t travel to right now.
Julie: Hello, my name is Julie Smithson, and I am your XR for Learning podcast host. I look forward to bringing you insight into changing the way that we learn and teach using XR technologies to explore, enhance, and individualize learning for everyone. Today, my guest is Jason Palmer. As the director of new media at Winged Whale Media, it's Jason's responsibility to help transform [the] client's vision into something that will make a difference. So with a background in digital communications from the University of Waterloo here in Canada, Jason spent the last 10 years in content creation with traditional media in videography and photography. Jason has spearheaded the use of 360 degree video VR content for a handful of clients, and now is on the forefront of producing 360 VR video content in the travel and tourism industry for major hotel brands, national tourism boards, and cruise lines. And now broadened its scope to include full virtual environments and is working on bringing tourism to people in unprecedented times of restricted travel. Thank you so much, Jason, for joining me this morning.
Jason: It's an absolute pleasure.
Julie: Why don't you tell me a little bit about Winged Whale Media? It sounds like it's a great place to start.
Jason: [chuckles] Yeah, absolutely. So, Winged Whale Media -- as you mentioned there -- we've been around for a little bit more than 10 years now. And we started out in the traditional side, doing a lot of photography and video. In particular with the tourism industry, we would capture a lot of resorts and destinations. For example, a tour operator or a resort would send us down to a destination -- usually in the Caribbean, I might add, which is always a benefit -- and we would capture the rooms, we'd capture the pools, we'd capture the casinos, or the discos, or what have you, and bring that content back. We've been doing that for a while and it's been a great ride. I don't know if you want me to get into the name of the company now. [laughs]
Julie: Yeah, absolutely. Well, obviously, with travel and tourism, the big question is, how is your industry doing? Because nobody's travelling, right? That's the first thing that everybody's probably thinking as they're listening to this podcast. So how has your business changed, and what kind of services are you starting to do within the company to support travel and tourism?
Jason: We've really kind of examined over the last couple of months how we can bring education to the travel and tourism industry. And I'll give you kind of a specific example in that. Typically, a destination such as Antigua and Barbuda, or the Bahamas, or really any country kind of on the planet will do what's called a familiarization trip. And that's where they will bring a number of industry professionals -- whether they're travel agents or press -- to a destination and kind of showcase the destination to them. And for the smaller organizations, you're maybe talking anywhere from 30 to 90 people for a familiarization trip over the course of the entire year. So if you're taking 30 travel agents down to showcase your product over the course of the entire year, that's not very many when you consider that there are 5,000+ travel agents in Canada, there are 20,000+ travel agents in the United States, let alone the number around the world. So you're not getting a great deal of exposure for the effort that you're putting in.
And so what we've been looking at doing is how we can broaden that scope and bring that to a
Stoking Curiosity with XR, featuring Sam Nulf
It’s a blessing that XR technologies exist to help kids continue to learn through the COVID-19 pandemic. But if we just treat the tech as a delivery system for classroom homework, we’re doing students a disservice. Education consultant Sam Nulf explains why.
Julie: Hello, my name is Julie Smithson, and I am your XR for Learning podcast host. I look forward to bringing you insight into changing the way that we learn and teach using XR technologies to explore, enhance, and individualize learning for everyone. Today, my guest, Sam Nulf, has 15 years experience on instructional design in learning and development for enterprise and education. He's worked both internationally and in Toronto, Canada, as an educator and administrator. Sam has been a guest speaker on conferences speaking about 21st century learning and strategies for reimagining the curriculum. He co-authored the Inquiry Framework Tool, a guide for implementing inquiry based learning into the classroom, and has consulted with organizations on their curriculum and learning programs. Sam is currently working at the VR and AR Space, marrying his two passions, innovation and learning. Thanks for joining me today, Sam.
Sam: My pleasure. Nice to be here, Julie.
Julie: Great, great. So please tell me a little bit more about your passion, your vision. We talked right before we started recording here today, about when we decided we were going to record; it was pre-COVID and this isolation that's going on right now for everyone, and how education and learning from home has impacted everyone. And I'd love for you to just take off in a conversation with me, about how we're going to adjust learning from home, and what you're seeing from your perspective and your experience.
Sam: [laughs] That's a really big question. I'll try and break it down.
Julie: Absolutely, absolutely. How are we going to fix this problem? [laughs]
Sam: Right, right. Let's just first maybe touch on what I perceived to be the climate out there. I think there's been some reporting in the news channels about some dissatisfaction and frustration from parents, with how the roll-out of the learning programs through the use of technology has gone. And that frustration, I think it generally revolves around a gap in understanding for parents. Parents need a little more support in how to help their children at home. I think there needs to be-- that bridge between the institution of education and parents needs to be supported and built out a bit more. And then that will inform how robust the learning can be with what's being pushed out. It seems that the tool -- if we're talking about technology as a tool -- hasn't quite been used to its full potential. It's more sort of like a delivery service for the checklist of items that parents have to do. And the board will call it learning. "You do this, you do this, you do this, and your child is learning." But there's an opportunity that's been missed, to make the learning really rich. And that is one part technology, but it's another part, the instructional design piece or the pedagogy. Rethinking how to how to teach. And there has been some big conversations about inquiry based learning or problem based learning and 21st century competencies, that sort of are amplified with that type of instruction. So I think there's still some work to do.
Julie: Yeah, just a story I've heard this week about a very frustrated teacher who has put a lot of pressure on the parent, for not engaging their child at home enough with the remote teacher. So, first of all, the frustration of the teacher not having the parents sit there by the student and say, you have to do your work, get onto the computer and you have to talk to this teacher. But
Investing in the Well-Being of Educators, with James McCrary
“Pivoting” isn’t just an industry term anymore - in the wake of COVID-19, educators have had to pivot as well, quickly adopting XR collaboration and video conferencing technologies just to teach their students. Educational consultant and innovation director James McCrary explains how his most important work lately is just making sure teachers and parents are adjusting to the new norm.
Julie: Ok. Hello, my name is
Julie Smithson, and I am your XR for Learning podcast host. I look
forward to bringing you insight into changing the way that we learn
and teach, using XR technologies to explore, enhance, and
individualize learning for everyone. Today, my guest, James McCrary,
is an educator located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And since 2012, he
began presenting at state, regional, and national conferences such as
James: Yeah, that's LACU.
Julie: LACU! And FETC and CUE
and ISTE, on topics around 3D and immersion technology. He is a
co-founder of Singularity Media Group, which specializes in spatial
awareness, and learning in augmented and virtual reality. He also
hosts the VR podcast in Simulation Live, discussing the impact of
immersion technology. In 2019, he was recognized as an Apple
Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Educator for his work
integrating immersion technology into the classroom and positively
impacting students globally. Recently, he began partnering with LSU
College of Education, Faculty and Research on virtual reality with
pre-service educators, and as the incoming president of ISTE Virtual
Environments. Thanks so much for joining me, James.
James: Oh yeah. Thank you so
much for having me. I mean, I love talking about this stuff. And so I
think podcasting just lends itself to me just kind of rambling on a
little bit, so... [chuckles]
Julie: [laughs] Amazing. Well,
there's so many things to talk about in education today. And I know
I'd love for you to share with our listeners a little bit about what
you do on a daily basis, and how you're making the biggest impact as
your role of director of technology and working with schools in
Louisiana to introduce immersive technologies.
James: Primarily, right now my
direct role is I am a director technology at -- essentially -- an
elementary school through fifth grade. And the thing that we focused
on the most right now is a augmented reality, both in terms of
consumption and creation. And I work with other schools in the area.
I'm very fortunate to have really good relationships with a lot of
other directors of technology, not just in our area, but in our
surrounding extended metro area, in our state, even in surrounding
states. And I've been kind of adopted [chuckles] by other
organizations in Florida and California that have graciously allowed
me to interact with their schools, their students, and their teachers
to kind of go beyond just AR and looking at other type of spatial
learning, using things like head mounted display, VR experiences,
both in terms of consumption and also creation and collaboration. And
so on a daily basis, throughout the day, I'm working with teachers
and students, obviously with their technology needs, but also
integrating the AR methodologies, primarily using things like
CoSpaces and Merge EDU -- that's two of the biggest ones that we use
-- but also in the evenings, and on weekends, and times that I take
off with other schools to implement those other levels of technology
that we just talked about.
Julie: That's great. I have to
ask, how has that role changed for you since Covid has changed the
way that students learn? You know, implementing that into schools is
obviously a challenge *without* having a pandemic being a part of the
Empowering Educators by Getting Immersive, with apelab's Emilie Joly
We often say that some concepts can only be taught to students spatially, and getting them inside some VR is the best way to do it. Emilie Joly from apelab visits with Julie to explain how that same concept, applied to educators, inspired Zoe.com.
Julie: Hello, my name is Julie
Smithson, and I am your XR for Learning podcast host. I look forward
to bringing you insight into changing the way that we learn and teach
using XR technologies to explore, enhance and individualize learning
for everyone. Today, my guest is Emilie Joly, and she is a CEO by
day, an interaction designer by night, co-founding apelab, a Swiss-US
software company bringing immersive technologies to the world. And
with her co-founders, they launched an exciting remote learning
platform called Zoe for teachers and schools around the world.
Students are able to learn and build their own immersive experiences
around curriculum-based subjects, using their visual soft programming
tools and Unity game engine. Thanks so much for being with me here
today, Emily. Welcome.
Emilie: Thank you, Julie. It's a
pleasure to be here.
Julie: That's great. Well, why
don't you tell me a little bit about the history of apelab, and then
dive right in on how Zoe is helping people learn.
Emilie: I co-founded apelab six years
ago now -- so it's been a while -- with two other great peers of
mine. We founded the company when we were still at university. Our
background is we're interaction designers, and we wanted to build 3D
interactive experiences using our iPhones on 360 degrees. But there
were no tools. We used the Unity game engine at the time, but it was
still very early. And so we decided to build our own software tools.
And the goal of those tools was to help non-coders, creative teams,
creative people to build immersive 3D content without having to code.
And so that's how we started the company. We worked with different
partners in the immersive space like Facebook, Google, HTC, did some
work there. And then recently we decided to put all of our software
tools in a platform called Zoe. And that platform is for teachers and
students to take advantage of what we've built in the edtech context.
Julie: So can you tell us a
little bit about introducing the concept? Because what you're telling
me is it's a new way to tell stories. It's a brand new way of
storytelling. It's three dimensional learning. It's something that I
felt very passionate about, how to introduce three dimensional
learning into our classrooms to explore spatial presence and
understanding, since that's what-- where we live in today. So maybe
can you share some of the concepts that you use at Zoe to introduce
why do we need this spatial understanding and three dimensional
Emilie: There's something about
being in a virtual space -- in a 3D space -- that makes so much
difference. We are used to flat interfaces, but when you put students
that are younger -- like 12, 13, 14 year olds -- into a 3D
environment where they can fully interact with the space, and then
you put them back into 2D flat interfaces, they don't understand why
we haven't been using those 3D interfaces in the first place, because
it's much more natural. It makes a lot more sense for learning, and
for creating, and also just for sparking imagination. These 3D
spatial environments are very unique in terms of what, how, and what
you can learn. And I think at least our approach is that we're
interested in giving-- empowering the students to build their own
experiences in that 3D world. So they are the ones creating the
learning material for others, they are the ones telling stories, they
are the ones building the stories. Like they would if they were doing
an essay, or having to do an argument with other students.
Coordinating Virtual Squirrels, with Education Consultant Craig Frehlich
Today’s guest, Craig Frehlich, is an educational consultant, and first saw the learning potential of VR on a trip to the mall with his son. But he drops in to stress the experience itself isn’t going to teach much, without a discussion with students about what they experienced after the fact.
Julie: Hello, my name is Julie
Smithson and I am your XR for Learning podcast host. I look forward
to bring you insight into changing the way we learn and teach using
XR technologies, to explore and enhance an individualized learning
for everyone. Today, my guest is Craig Frehlich. And he has been
working in education for over 25 years and has his master's degree in
education with a focus on curriculum design. He is also an
educational consultant and speaker on the topics of inquiry, design
thinking, and the use of technology in education. Craig is currently
a design teacher and academic advisor for various organizations, and
he pioneered the first VR lab for school in Canada. His main focus is
to use contextual and conceptual thinking to translate VR experiences
into lesson guides that help map successfully introspective journeys
in virtual reality. His upcoming book, "Immersive Learning:
Harnessing Virtual Reality Superpowers in Education", offers a
practical approach to using VR in a variety of subjects and
disciplines. Thanks for joining me today, Craig.
Craig: Hi, Julie. Thanks for
having me. I'm excited to be on the show.
Julie: And what perfect timing
this is to talk about some of the schools that you work on, to help
support our educators in the global community today.
Craig: I agree.
Julie: Yeah. So maybe if you
want to share a little bit about what you're working on, and how you
can help our listeners -- especially if they're teachers -- in some
of the work that you've done, and provide some advice on learning for
those listeners today.
Craig: I'd love to. I think I'll
start with my origin story, which is how I first got interested in
VR. So my son and I were in a mall in Canada and it was 2016. He was
16 at the time, 16 years old. So he dragged me into a Microsoft store
where they had an HTC Vive setup. We had to sign a whole bunch of
forms. Luckily, there was no line up and he donned the headset and
was playing around in VR. It was The Lab by Valve. And I watched him,
and he was enthralled and it looked so interesting. So he convinced
me to put the headset on. When I put the headset on, I just couldn't
believe how realistic it was. There's words like presence and when
you're don your avatar, how it feels so much like real life. And it
was that moment that got me thinking about how a great tool this
would be for VR.
Julie: So how did you then take
that next step in to, I guess, becoming an educator within VR? Where
did that take off for you?
Craig: On our drive home back to
our town, we started ruminating on the experience. Like, The Lab has
Longbow, which is an archery game. And my son and I started talking
about how you could feel the controllers vibrate, and we started to
unpack the experience. Which made me think about, it's one thing for
people to put the headset on, but I think most importantly --
especially for educators -- is how can we make meaning from such a
magical/powerful experience? So I started investigating this. Lucky
enough, we ended up getting someone donate some money, and we bought
three headsets for our school in Canada. And as we put headsets on
kids, they walk away with awe, wonder, sometimes bewilderment. But it
was until we had conversations after, that it really solidified the
learning. So I started writing lesson guides, things like "What
should you be seeing? What should you be focusing on before you get
into the headset?" And then probably more importantly, when the
ANNOUNCING: The XR Collaboration Project
We interrupt your regularly-scheduled podcast for this special announcement, where Julie introduces the XR Collaboration project. MetaVRse, along with other major players in the XR space, have come together to develop an easy-to-use guide for the newly-home-office-bound to navigate the many telecommunication tools available from the industry.