By definition the real world is not virtual reality and virtual reality is not the real world. That’s why it’s virtual reality and not real reality. It’s either one or the other.
But this doesn’t stop the educational marketeers from trying to get our local school districts to buy lots of 21st-century! stuff from them, and which is exactly what the BUSD agreed to do last week:
The Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) recently received $1,115,750 for the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG). The grant is to maintain and expand Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways with the goal of providing high quality CTE programs to all students. The BUSD plans to expand the CTE pathways by adding two new strands: Engineering and Design; and, Health Science. The Engineering pathway will begin in the fall with Introduction to Engineering. In order to support the new engineering and health science pathways the District plans to purchase five zSpace computer labs for John Burroughs High School, Burbank High School, Jordan Middle School, Luther Burbank Middle School, and John Muir Middle School. The zSpace computers have virtual programs that allow students to experience lesson in a 3-D environment. For example, it allows students to look inside a beating heart and pull apart the different pieces to see how they function and put them back together again. It also comes with curriculum to support all of the technology. In addition, the zSpace computers have small engines and robotics modules.
Interesting idea, but when will this purchase prove to be obsolete? Not doubt too soon. And the District is planning on spending over $300,000 on these “collaborative” beating heart/pull apart labs.
Our suspicion of how gimmicky this can be isn’t at all relieved by the hype:
Works the way people work
The zSpace system integrates into your normal life with desktop virtual reality that allows you to seamlessly move in and out of zSpace back to the real world. This experience is enabled by a unique combination of high definition stereopsis, integrated head tracking with full motion parallax and a precision interactive stylus.
Although our critics might disagree, we don’t normally move in and out between the real world and virtual reality. We don’t even know what that means. But it must have sold someone.
The BUSD is also farming out the development of some of their new STEM curriculum to an outside concern. It’s only costing about $40,000, and (sadly) this is the way of the future everywhere. No more will a Bert Hagg or a Bob Allen (or a Miss Smiley for that matter) be designing their own Burbank schools STEM-like curriculum or lesson plans.
Remember Hagg’s “Math Logic,” anyone, that old BHS summer school class based upon the simplified Polish Notation developed for the game “Wff ‘N Proof? Allen’s brother came up with the game when he was teaching at Yale Law School, and Hagg later ingeniously ported it over into our Burbank schools.
Those days are long gone. Everything’s uniform and automated now. And of course, overwhelmingly collaborative.
Creating “A-Ha!” moments around the room is the obvious goal. Er, lab.