20 episodes

Charting the future of training and education

XR for Learning Julie Smithson

    • Courses

Charting the future of training and education

    Envisioning Travel in VR, with Winged Whale Media’s Jason Palmer

    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

    • 18 min
    Stoking Curiosity with XR, featuring Sam Nulf

    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

    • 16 min
    Investing in the Well-Being of Educators, with James McCrary

    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
    LAC-- what--

    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

    James: It'

    • 24 min
    Empowering Educators by Getting Immersive, with apelab's Emilie Joly

    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.

    Julie: S

    • 17 min
    Coordinating Virtual Squirrels, with Education Consultant Craig Frehlich

    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

    • 21 min
    ANNOUNCING: The XR Collaboration Project

    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.

    • 6 min

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