writ­ten by Johan­nes Gra­pen­tin, Flo­ri­an Sochat­zy and Mar­cus Ventz­ke, Ger­man ver­si­on here

Increa­singly, pre­sent schools seem like anti­qua­ted and unworld­ly insti­tu­ti­ons of a dif­fe­rent era – led by bizar­re rules and lacking con­nenc­tions to the rea­li­tes of pre­sent-day life. Our public schools are buil­dings made of bricks and con­cre­te, the­re­fo­re loca­li­zed in spe­ci­fic pla­ces and part of regio­nal and supra­re­gio­nal admi­nis­tra­ti­ons which are often under­staf­fed and struc­tu­ral­ly ailing. The core of their pedago­gi­cal task remains in memo­ri­zing lifeless infor­ma­ti­on par­ti­cles.

The­re­fo­re, why do we still have schools today? And what func­tion do we want them to have? The­se tem­po­ral, spa­ti­al, orga­ni­za­tio­nal and not least didac­tic struc­tures of the cur­rent school sys­tem are lar­ge­ly unsui­ta­ble for modern edu­ca­tio­nal goals, as they still aim to ensu­re that all lear­ners learn the same in pre­de­ter­mi­ned time units and are jud­ged accord­ing to uni­form stan­dards. It is not under­stan­ding, expe­ri­en­cing, com­pre­hen­ding and abs­tract thin­king that cha­rac­te­ri­zes the stu­dents’ lear­ning bio­gra­phy, but memo­ri­zing an exis­ting canon of fac­ts.

At the tran­si­ti­on to the digi­ti­zed world, howe­ver, our socie­ty faces com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent chal­len­ges and, con­se­quent­ly, edu­ca­ti­on must also be con­cei­ved under dif­fe­rent terms.

We need

  • rea­listic lear­ning objec­ts rela­ted to the chal­len­ges of the pre­sent and the future,
  • indi­vi­du­al lear­ning pathways that lead to fle­xi­ble, inte­rest-rela­ted, sub­ject-rela­ted and lear­ning-rela­ted group for­ma­ti­on
  • lear­ning sce­n­a­ri­os focu­sed on pro­blem sol­ving that exceed pre­vious deve­lop­ment and pro­ces­sing con­ven­ti­ons,
  • a com­pre­hen­si­ve, con­tent and media-based per­so­na­li­ty edu­ca­ti­on that enab­les the expres­si­on of soci­al com­pe­tence, aes­the­tic awa­reness and emo­tio­nal respon­si­bi­li­ty.

Modern edu­ca­ti­on will have to aim at

  • the deve­lop­ment of crea­ti­vi­ty and abi­li­ty to act in unknown situa­ti­ons,
  • pos­si­bi­li­ties of per­so­nal for­ma­ti­on, rea­li­za­ti­on and ‘reinven­ti­on’ in a con­stant­ly chan­ging world.

The­re­fo­re, modern edu­ca­ti­on requi­res the abi­li­ty of each indi­vi­du­al to

  • distan­ce them­sel­ves from the alrea­dy exis­ting,
  • ana­ly­ze cri­ti­cal­ly,
  • regroup well-known pat­terns of action and know­ledge stocks and
  • be able to fill in defec­ts crea­tively through new Ide­as.

School in Vir­tu­al Rea­li­ty (VR School) as a Poten­ti­al Edu­ca­tio­nal Rene­wer

Tech­ni­cal deve­lop­ments in the field of vir­tu­al rea­li­ty (VR) have alrea­dy made enough pro­gress to allow immer­si­ve spaces and set­tings. Fal­ling acqui­si­ti­on costs for hard­ware equip­ment and an ever-gro­wing selec­tion of avail­ab­le VR expe­ri­en­ces are cur­r­ent­ly ope­ning the door to a respec­ta­ble mar­ket for vir­tu­al rea­li­ty. The tech­no­lo­gy is lea­ving the sphe­re of sci­en­ti­fic test labo­ra­to­ries and POCs and will soon be part of ever­y­day cul­tu­re.

Con­se­quent­ly, the ques­ti­on ari­ses as to what extent VR can also beco­me an ele­men­ta­ry com­po­nent of edu­ca­tio­nal pro­ces­ses. On the basis of the rapid tech­ni­cal deve­lop­ment, lear­ning spaces in VR can now be thought of and imple­men­ted, which could initi­al­ly be com­ple­men­ta­ry to school and, in a next step, could even replace it ent­i­re­ly. The big tech com­pa­nies are alrea­dy working on ways to revo­lu­tio­ni­ze the edu­ca­tio­nal mar­ket with the help of VR. Schools that are deve­lo­ped and ope­ra­ted by tech com­pa­nies accord­ing to their needs, are no lon­ger uto­pic. For this rea­son, it is impe­ra­ti­ve to pre­pa­re for such a school in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty on a theo­re­ti­cal level, but also on the basis of prac­ti­cal empi­ri­cal expe­ri­en­ces today.

The Insti­tut für digi­ta­les Ler­nen (Insti­tu­te for Digi­tal Lear­ning) has foun­ded a sub­si­dia­ry, the Digi­ta­le Lern­wel­ten GmbH (Digi­tal Lear­ning Worlds), to com­mit its­elf to this task. The fol­lo­wing points are the theo­re­ti­cal foun­da­ti­ons of such a school, a con­cept for a prac­ti­cal imple­men­ta­ti­on is alrea­dy in progress.The school in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty, which has been­de­ve­lo­ped by the Insti­tu­te for Digi­tal Lear­ning under the pro­ject tit­le mSchool is the basis of dif­fe­rent lear­ning spaces, which pro­vi­de a lear­ning envi­ron­ment for lear­ners and tea­ching envi­ron­ment for tea­chers regard­less of mate­ri­al and spa­ti­al con­di­ti­ons.

All sub­se­quent demands must be sub­ject to a theo­re­ti­cal, empi­ri­cal and prac­ti­cal ques­tio­ning at any time.

  1. School in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty is based on the theo­ry of con­struc­tivism and rede­fi­nes the inter­de­pen­den­ci­es of exter­nal con­di­ti­ons and inner design pro­ces­ses of school and lear­ning in the digi­tal world. It offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to use added digi­tal value as well as to deve­lop new digi­tal value .
  2. Lear­ning is unders­tood as an exten­si­ve search for solu­ti­ons. Access to infor­ma­ti­on is a necessa­ry con­di­ti­on of tea­ching, not its goal.
  3. Twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry skills (crea­ti­vi­ty, com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, col­la­bo­ra­ti­on and cri­ti­cal thin­king) form the pedago­gi­cal-didac­tic frame­work in the deve­lop­ment of the school’s are­as of expe­ri­ence, ana­ly­sis, app­li­ca­ti­on and reflec­tion in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty. In addi­ti­on, sub­ject-didac­tic com­pe­ten­cy models and topics are added to this frame­work.
  4. Spaces for lear­ning, working and expe­ri­en­ces are com­ple­te­ly rede­si­gned. Fin­dings from archi­tec­tu­ral psy­cho­lo­gy, edu­ca­tio­nal space rese­arch, inter­na­tio­nal school rese­arch, etc. ser­ve as the basis for a new con­struc­tion and eva­lua­ti­on of the school’s living and working space and can thus be con­sistent­ly imple­men­ted for the first time.
  5. Didac­tic reduc­tion of sub­ject-rela­ted topics does not lead to a qua­li­ta­ti­ve loss in the way that lear­ning objec­ts are iso­la­ted from their sup­por­ting ide­as and con­cepts. Media pre­sen­ta­ti­ons allow for gene­tic under­stan­ding. Selec­tion decisi­ons and pro­ce­du­res are made trans­pa­rent.
  6. Media pre­sen­ta­ti­ons are redu­ced to print and speach in the age of paper – this will be diver­si­fied. The often ina­de­qua­te rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ons of Topics and Pro­blems in ana­lo­gue media are resol­ved into expe­ri­en­ces and vivid sce­n­a­ri­os that cor­re­spond to the human capa­ci­ty for per­cep­ti­on and pro­ces­sing: sta­tes and pro­ces­ses remain sta­tes and pro­ces­ses in medi­al rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ons, i.e. they are por­tray­ed as per­sis­tent or , respec­tively, in move­ment. Unnes­se­sa­ry forms of com­ple­xi­ty thus eli­mi­na­ted.
  7. Human action and inter­ac­tion are not fun­da­ment­al­ly coded tex­tual­ly in expe­ri­en­ces in school in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty. They are “huma­ni­zed” or “rehu­ma­ni­zed” medi­al­ly becau­se peop­le think in moving, den­se images and situa­ti­ons.
  8. In-depth and advan­ced digi­tal ana­ly­sis opti­ons are used for metho­di­cal work in the sub­jec­ts.
  9. Dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on beco­mes a stan­dard: like in an open-world adven­ture, dif­fe­rent paths lead to dif­fe­rent varia­ties, empha­ses and lear­ning objec­ts.
  10. Indi­vi­dua­li­za­ti­on is a basic princip­le of school in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty. On the one hand, this means indi­vi­du­al access to expe­ri­en­ced and working are­as. This inclu­des the per­ma­nent sto­rage and avai­la­bi­li­ty of per­so­nal expe­ri­en­ces, pro­ce­du­res and work results. On the other hand, indi­vi­dua­li­za­ti­on signi­fies a dia­gno­sis-based design of indi­vi­du­al lear­ning pathways and lear­ning pro­gress exami­na­ti­ons. Howe­ver, the con­di­ti­ons of lear­ning are also cus­to­miz­ab­le: struc­tu­ral equip­ment simu­la­ti­ons, room rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ons, ligh­t­ing con­di­ti­ons, rou­te gui­d­ance, etc.
  11. A tech­no­lo­gy-based dia­gno­sis of indi­vi­du­al lear­ning pre­re­qui­si­tes, cha­rac­te­ris­tics and results are the basis for the deve­lop­ment of indi­vi­du­al lear­ning sce­n­a­ri­os.
  12. School in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty thri­ves on the par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on of its users – par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on of tea­chers and lear­ners in the design of the lear­ning rooms is an ele­men­ta­ry com­po­nent of this school, becau­se it pro­mo­tes per­so­nal respon­si­bi­li­ty and enab­les expe­ri­ence of effec­tiveness.
  13. Tea­chers and lear­ners always have sover­eig­n­ty over their actions wit­hin the VR expe­ri­ence and work spaces.
  14. School in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty is a soci­al school. Tea­chers have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to chan­ge their pro­fes­sio­nal self-image, to deve­lop from know­ledge faci­li­ta­tors to lear­ning com­pa­n­ions. They are experts (tech­ni­cal), mode­ra­tors (didac­ti­cal), men­tors (soci­al) and advan­ced lear­ners (indi­vi­dual­ly). Tea­chers are libe­ra­ted from the erro­ne­ous fic­tion of having to have exclu­si­ve access to all topics and media, which they then dis­tri­bu­te and make acces­si­ble to others. In vir­tu­al rea­li­ty, lear­ners are (co-)designers of topics and tasks, their soci­al rela­ti­ons and their spa­tio-tem­po­ral envi­ron­ment. School in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty is per­man­ent­ly reex­ami­ned and deve­lo­ped con­struc­tively. New tech­ni­cal fin­dings are imple­men­ted as updates occur.

Thus, school in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty enab­les high­ly dif­fe­ren­tia­ted and indi­vi­dua­li­zed pro­mo­ti­on in new space-time-rela­ti­ons­hips, on indi­vi­du­al lear­ning paths, under deve­lop­ment of com­pe­ten­ces, on the way to “intel­li­gent know­ledge”.

The basis of the design and imple­men­ta­ti­on of school in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty is not a tech­ni­cal hype, but the need for chan­ge of the pre­do­mi­nant edu­ca­tio­nal ent­i­ties based on deepe­ned insights. It will be vital to con­si­der a wide varie­ty of ques­ti­ons from dif­fe­rent disci­pli­nes. Some of them can be found on this gra­phic:

The Insti­tu­te for Digi­tal Lear­ning will address the­se ques­ti­ons and, in col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with part­ners from poli­tics, other busi­nes­ses and sci­en­ti­fic com­mu­nities, con­cep­tua­li­ze and explo­re the con­cept of school in vir­tu­al rea­li­ty. We look for­ward to recei­ving input and con­struc­tive cri­ti­cism from the com­mu­ni­ty.