• Niteen Hatle

Eureka!

I was taking a bath quite early on that foggy morning of December 09, 2017, when I began to wonder how I should go about raising my 10-month-old son. How can I make studies interesting for him so that he enjoys them? And suddenly, a quite normal event in the bathroom, I was reminded of an interview in March 2011. I had visualized a dark classroom filled with a projection of our solar system. The teacher explains the characteristics of planets, moons, and the sun, as each of these 3D objects move about their elliptical paths. That was my idea of a future classroom. Well, my resume was not shortlisted by Tata Interactive because they were looking for a more practical idea. I shook my head, not because I was toweling my head dry, but because I realised that VR (and AR?) could just make that classroom a reality.

So, I have let my imagination run wild to conjure up a couple of “out of the bathroom” ideas or applications of VR in the education industry. Just as our solar system is a microscopic part of this vast universe, so are my next ideas.

One student got dizzy (could have been more), another ran to the washroom may be to vomit, there were some with twitchy fingers, and some including I were wondering what we ought to feel the moment the biology professor slit open a large frog’s torso with an incision right in the middle. Dissection of any living organism has been a “to do or not to do” situation for me. I enjoyed the biology practicals. After the first time, I was quite comfortable with dissections. Many of us were anyway bored of drawing a figure of a dissected frog (or other animals) and labeling various body organs. Practically cutting open an animal and separating the organs was altogether a different experience. Couple of sessions later, I was one of those with twitchy fingers. On the other hand, I felt quite sorry for these animals. Two or three months later just thinking about the number of frogs being killed in college labs (and elsewhere) across the country gave me the creeps. That was way back in the early 1990s. Now imagine dissecting a frog or any other animal in a virtual lab. You can carry out the procedure as many times as you want until you become an expert, without harming a single animal!

Start

The hidden armor blunted the dagger blow. The big man tried to swing it again, but the little guy dealt rapid punches into his ribs with tiger claws. Shocked, the large man staggered backward. Before he could regain composure, the little guy lunged toward him. The dagger hit the big man’s chest. He drove the dagger deeper into the man. With one foot on his chest, the little guy pulled out the dagger, kicking him down at the same time. Afzal Khan lay sprawled on the floor, as Shivaji signaled his troops.

Pause

Virtual reality will make history quite interesting to learn for sure. Or I should say, it will make students relive history as it happened. They say it will take a time machine (subject of my next article) to change history. But will VR let students tinker with history? Food for thought.

To end this article, I will quickly throw in some disruptive ideas. Would it be possible to have the best teacher in the world teach every student on Earth? Are virtual teachers the future of education? Will AI take up most of the teaching jobs sooner rather than later?

Well, my son Manas is growing up fast. And curiosity is his teacher. For now.

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