Thursday, March 29, 2018

Incorporating AR and VR into International Education

By request of Prof. Liaw, I shared this greatest passion of mine, International Education, at the Department of English, National Taichung University of Education. I've been using Skype to conduct English and cultural exchange projects with teachers in Japan, Korea, and so on. Now with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, language skills, such as writing and speaking, as well as panoramic photography, editing, organizing, uploading, etc., are able to be integrated into several core competencies. 

Augmented Reality brings some virtual features, such as images, sounds, maps, and so on, superimposed on the screen of your real-world smartphones. Thanks to Live ABC, we have free access to the APP, 遊臺中學英語 Having Fun Learning English in Taichung, for one year, complete with the book and some add-on learning materials. My students absolutely loved it when interacting with the Martial Art Compound 演武場, using their smartphones to watch the lessons in advance, unlock the missions, and get all the questions right on site.

Virtual Reality is growing in popularity in its applications to educational purposes. I personally think it is far more intriguing and motivating when adopted properly in English teaching. The idea is to have students introducing any designated spot, like the library in the campus or a tourist attraction in Taichung, in English. They then go take panoramic pictures, write a script, record their introduction in audio, upload the materials, and organize the route. When putting on the VR glasses, you're going to experience something really magical, feeling you're right at that spot with the English language guide in your ears.

Whether VR or AR, I would always ask myself what exactly students are going to DO with English. Next, having the equipment ready is not enough because students won't have a clue what to say at all. That's what good lesson planning kicks in. As a teacher, our job is to come up with a variety of tasks that scaffold students to complete step by step and then produce the desired result, which is having fun USING English. Bear in mind, we don't want to jump on the bandwagon only because it's trendy or it sounds fancy to do so.

As my two gifted students and I are becoming proficient in every step of creating VR experiences along the way, my goal is to involve more students in this project. Also, by collaborating with the English Department, I'm very much looking forward to more opportunities in the near future.

Students will be more confident and skilled in presenting the beauty of their hometown in English during Skype exchange sessions with their counterparts outside of Taiwan. Repetition is absolutely crucial to language learning, especially when it comes to speaking. By only telling them to get their smart phones ready, it would be already motivating enough. 

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