Today we have an interview with education expert Karl Kapp, founder of Kapp Notes! Karl is a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University, and he is also a consultant, speaker, and writer for matters regarding educational technology. Kapp Notes has been featured on elearninglearning, and has spoken across the country on matters related to educational technology as well. He is here today to lend his views on education and technology, with an emphasis on 3D technology.
1. What inspired you to start Kapp Notes?
I started Kapp Notes way backing 2006 and back then as a professor of instructional technology, alumni, fellow faculty and corporate professionals would ask questions about proper approaches to all these new learning technologies emerging at the time and I’d find myself answering similar questions over and over again. So, one day I decided to broadcast my answers via a blog to see what would happen. Well, not only did people respond to the postings but writing everyday clarified my thoughts on subjects and helped me to understand more fully the promise and pitfalls of new and old technologies for learning and education. So my blog became my “memory box” where I would store ideas, neat articles and insights that I came across and then I would find myself looking back at my blog before presentations and class lectures so could incorporate those ideas into the education of others. So, I really started it as a way to help others and, ironically, it became a vehicle to help me “think straight” about all the ideas about technology. Today, I view it as a combination of a place for me to share with others and a place that others can share their ideas and concepts with me. I’ve made great friends through my blog and it has really helped me as a professional in the field understand social media and the limits and advantages of technology.
2. How is the current generation of students different from previous generations?
I think they are different in their expectations. They don’t necessarily learn differently but they want to learn in a different manner than older generations. They have grown up surrounded by technology, to them, technology is not a tool, its an environment in which they function. So they expect all forms of communication to be delivered via technology. This expectations means that they want learning and development professionals to create content that is well suited to technology. So, for them, learning through a video-game type interface or playing a mobile learning game is not strange or goofing around, to them its just how they’d like to receive information. I also think that the two-way nature of the current version of the Internet–where they can both consume and create content–has inspired them to look for interactions in learning and collaboration that involve them creating their own content. I think the current generation values their ability to create content and meaning very much and they want to be in environments that value them creating their own learning pieces or content. And some research, seems to indicate that the Internet is having some effects on people’s brains especially in the area of hypertext. So, while I don’t think the younger generation actually learners differently, I think they expect to be taught differently and therefore are demanding non-traditional ways of learning delivery.
3. How can 3D technology be used to impact education?
3D technology can impact education in three profound ways. First, it can provide learners with experiences they could not have any other way. They can explore a volcano or experience a tsunami and other natural occurrences without any risk through a 3D virtual environment. They can even experience being another gender or race and explore issues around those possibilities. Second, 3D fosters collaboration across great distances. People in a 3D environment are occupying the same space at the same time. They can see the other person, interact with them as if they were side-by-side, they can walk together, explore together and experiment together. This provides a level of cooperation that is hard to obtain with 2D technology interfaces. A fully functional avatar trumps a disembodied voice any time. The 3D technology allows for a feeling of “being there” together. Third, 3D is how we interact in the physical world. We forget that the 2D interface of a computer is artificial, we had to learn what all the icons and buttons mean and how to “drag and drop.” 3D is the natural state of humans and when 3D interfaces become easier to use and mimic our natural movements, the possibilities of collaborating, learning and gaining wisdom will be almost limitless.
4. What is the biggest obstacle in integrating 3D tech in education?
Three obstacles I see. One, everyone wants to know, “is online 3D as good as the classroom for education?” To that I answer, how do we know classroom instruction is that good? It is held as the gold standard but I don’t know that education is as powerful as it could be when it occurs in a formal classroom. The classroom paradigm of 4 walks, an instructor up front and students being empty vessels is an obstacle. Second, and this is minor compared to the first. Is the state of the technology. 3D technology is currently were elearning was 15 years ago. Back then we had to teach people what a blue underlined word meant when they saw it in a browser? Today they know it is a hyperlink. We don’t need to teach that any more. Eventually, the generation we are teaching will all be familiar with 3D interfaces and the “navigation” obstacle will be eliminated. And third, as more people explore both educational and consumer-based 3D worlds, they’ll get it and understand the power of 3D. I always say that you can’t really understand what makes 3D so attractive as a learning platform until you experiences it first hand for yourself.
5. Do you think it is possible to one day have an all-online classroom?
Yes,I do. We can learn an awful lot in a virtual 3D space that Combines the best of field trips with access to a knowledgeable expert and the ability to share information with peers. All of this can be done virtually. I hope that face-to-face education never completely disappears because it has its place but the realities of time and budget constraints are pushing us all toward an all-online classroom and, if designed correctly, the learning and experience can be even more effective than a traditional classroom.