Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thinking: Augmented Renaissance

Blogging late this eve because I spent the day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

The MD Ren Fest is sort of particularized among Ren Faires for two things: 1) its commitment to history (each year's theme follows a year in the life of Henry VIII and there are tons of historically accurate acts throughout the fairegrounds) and 2) its quantity and quality of handmade goods (unlike many so-called ren faires, the MD Ren Fest actively supports the culture of handmade clothing and crafts rather than just giving booth time to Ren-kitsch and imported generic Ren-garb).

Beings that I'm a teacher, I think about the classroom 24 hrs a day; and so on the drive home (before I fell asleep in the passenger's seat), I thought about what experiential learning of the sort you might get at a really well done re-enactment might mean for kids these days.

And I came to think that it means a whole lot.

And I thought to myself about the possibilities if the Faire offered free Wi-Fi.

Now, with full knowledge that combining Ren Faires and Wi-Fi in the same post posits me to new epochs of geekdom, I dare say that access to the online world is the one thing long missing from experiential learning of the field-trip variety.

Falling asleep in that passenger seat, I thought about the possibilities for augmenting live experience with virtual compendiums of knowledge and vital platforms for immediately connecting experience with conversation via blogging, microblogging, Twitter, augmented reality in a contact lens, and whathaveyou.

Real experience is still the best 'paperless' experience. I'm certainly one of the biggest proponents of field-trips and travel-based learning you will ever meet. And I am excited -- thrilled, in fact -- about the sorts of opportunities Web-augmented field-based learning offers to students and teachers.

I dare say Augmented Reality is the future of education.

So get yr schools to load up on iTouches, max out the bus with satellite radio, and get yourselves to the places where things happen (and in the case of re-enactments, where they re-happen). Find yourselves places where physical-experiential teaching and digital-experimental teaching cross paths; and advocate for our public airwaves (especially in any government building -- where in my opinion it is ghastly to deny universal free public Wi-Fi Internet accessibility) to carry free access while you are at it.

Because it just ain't that geeky anymore to merge our analogue and digital forms of experience; it's in fact something quite worthwhile, and increasingly do-able.

Maybe we're even up for a new Renaissance on account of this.

A new augmented-reality Renaissance.

1 comment:

  1. About halfway through this post I began to worry about the idea of wireless access, envisioning the typical supermarket scene where the cashier is dehumanized as the customer chats on the cell phone while checking out. It will be a major challenge to be sure, with all the engagement through these augmented channels, that advantage is taken of the reality. With that said, I love the idea of students posting and tagging images and video as well as being able to further reflect on their own experiences and those of their classmates. So often it's difficult to "take notes" in any meaningful way without detracting from the authentic experience. Consider me on board for this idea.


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