35 min

#19 Inside the World's First All-VR School with Adam Mangana & Dan Sturdevant Why Distance Learning?

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The episode features an interview with Adam Mangana and Dan Sturdevant of Optima Online Academy, the world’s first all-VR school. Optima aims to merge classical education in the liberal arts and humanities with cutting-edge virtual reality technology. Optima offers a classical curriculum based on great books and stories to prepare students to be their most human in an age of AI. The founders argue that VR is not bleeding-edge tech but rather the inevitable evolution of technology, just as books were initially criticized yet ultimately transformed learning.A key challenge Optima faces is building school culture and overcoming loneliness in a virtual environment. They use techniques like virtual scavenger hunts based on classics like The Scarlet Pimpernel, designing naturalistic social spaces, and activities drawn from canonical stories to foster student connection. Specific learning activities highlighted include Latin classes in preparation for computer science and coding, the concept of VR as a "memory palace." The overall focus is equity of access to high-quality education.Optima seeks to leverage the immersive properties of VR to ground students in classical education and culture. As the internet transforms into three dimensions, the school aims to maintain the best of humanities-based learning while expanding access with virtual technology. Dan and Adam argue this fusion will optimize preparation for the future of learning and human-AI collaboration.---Guest Bios:Dan SturdevantUpon graduation from Wheaton College (IL), Dr. Sturdevant moved to Charlotte, NC to teach at Providence Day School. Within a few years he married Christa (also Dr. Sturdevant) and they moved to Raleigh, where he continued teaching and earned a Duke masters focused on skills for student success. He later earned a UNC doctorate in Educational Leadership, completing a dissertation evaluating NC charter schools’ efficiency.Dr. Sturdevant believes in experiential education, student success and healthy school cultures. He has over a decade of classroom experience and has led schools at all levels. He firmly believes in Optima Academy Online’s mission to shape the next generation with its classically aligned, virtual reality education.Outside of school, the Drs. Sturdevant have two wonderful daughters and enjoy spending time together hiking, biking, and exploring new places.Adam ManganaAdam Mangana is a respected figure in education, known for integrating virtual reality into the classroom. As Founder of Optima Ed, he has created VR curriculum solutions that cater to modern learners.Previously, Adam served as Head of School at Benedict Day, where he established the first-ever VR Lab in the Pine Belt. He has also worked as Director of the Extended Reality Lab at Jackson Prep. Adam is passionate about curating the best VR educational experiences and empowering student content creation.Adam has spoken at various conferences including NAIS and SAIS, and co-hosts the “Ready Teacher One” podcast on VR’s role in the future of learning. With degrees from Brown and Vanderbilt in Independent School Leadership, and as a Teach for America alum and Albert Bennett award recipient, Adam has a foundation in both education and technology.His expertise in VR education has supported numerous schools to deliver exceptional learning experiences.Guest links:Optima Online Academy: https://www.optimaacademy.online/Host links:Browse amazing virtual learning opportunities at Tami and Allyson's CILC.orgSeth's  Banyan Global Learning prepares students for real life with live virtual learning experiences in Character Education: www.banyangloballea

The episode features an interview with Adam Mangana and Dan Sturdevant of Optima Online Academy, the world’s first all-VR school. Optima aims to merge classical education in the liberal arts and humanities with cutting-edge virtual reality technology. Optima offers a classical curriculum based on great books and stories to prepare students to be their most human in an age of AI. The founders argue that VR is not bleeding-edge tech but rather the inevitable evolution of technology, just as books were initially criticized yet ultimately transformed learning.A key challenge Optima faces is building school culture and overcoming loneliness in a virtual environment. They use techniques like virtual scavenger hunts based on classics like The Scarlet Pimpernel, designing naturalistic social spaces, and activities drawn from canonical stories to foster student connection. Specific learning activities highlighted include Latin classes in preparation for computer science and coding, the concept of VR as a "memory palace." The overall focus is equity of access to high-quality education.Optima seeks to leverage the immersive properties of VR to ground students in classical education and culture. As the internet transforms into three dimensions, the school aims to maintain the best of humanities-based learning while expanding access with virtual technology. Dan and Adam argue this fusion will optimize preparation for the future of learning and human-AI collaboration.---Guest Bios:Dan SturdevantUpon graduation from Wheaton College (IL), Dr. Sturdevant moved to Charlotte, NC to teach at Providence Day School. Within a few years he married Christa (also Dr. Sturdevant) and they moved to Raleigh, where he continued teaching and earned a Duke masters focused on skills for student success. He later earned a UNC doctorate in Educational Leadership, completing a dissertation evaluating NC charter schools’ efficiency.Dr. Sturdevant believes in experiential education, student success and healthy school cultures. He has over a decade of classroom experience and has led schools at all levels. He firmly believes in Optima Academy Online’s mission to shape the next generation with its classically aligned, virtual reality education.Outside of school, the Drs. Sturdevant have two wonderful daughters and enjoy spending time together hiking, biking, and exploring new places.Adam ManganaAdam Mangana is a respected figure in education, known for integrating virtual reality into the classroom. As Founder of Optima Ed, he has created VR curriculum solutions that cater to modern learners.Previously, Adam served as Head of School at Benedict Day, where he established the first-ever VR Lab in the Pine Belt. He has also worked as Director of the Extended Reality Lab at Jackson Prep. Adam is passionate about curating the best VR educational experiences and empowering student content creation.Adam has spoken at various conferences including NAIS and SAIS, and co-hosts the “Ready Teacher One” podcast on VR’s role in the future of learning. With degrees from Brown and Vanderbilt in Independent School Leadership, and as a Teach for America alum and Albert Bennett award recipient, Adam has a foundation in both education and technology.His expertise in VR education has supported numerous schools to deliver exceptional learning experiences.Guest links:Optima Online Academy: https://www.optimaacademy.online/Host links:Browse amazing virtual learning opportunities at Tami and Allyson's CILC.orgSeth's  Banyan Global Learning prepares students for real life with live virtual learning experiences in Character Education: www.banyangloballea

35 min