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Interview: Why immersive learning is the next big thing

January 11, 2019 • Education, Features, Top Stories

Marco Rosa, Managing Director at Formula D

Immersive learning is set to reshape how the world learns using technology, and to keep up, South Africa is urged to embrace this tech-type of learning or risk being left behind.

This type of learning could fundamentally change the way young South Africans absorb information and forms an integral part of the learning revolution the country needs to embark on to keep up with the demands of the future.

Marco Rosa, Managing Director at Formula D, gives insights on the immersive learning and how these new technologies can shape the way we learn.

How can immersive learning revolutionise the way we learn?

I think it’s less about revolutionising the way we learn and more about revolutionizing access to quality and effective education. We all know, intuitively or otherwise, that learning is much easier when we’re immersed or “experiencing” content so that idea is not revolutionary. Having technology facilitate that immersion and, in turn, affording everyone the opportunity to access that form of learning is going to revolutionise society.

What are the benefits of using immersive technologies as teaching tools?

The benefit is that when we learn through experiencing something our comprehension and retention of the relevant subject matter or material is much deeper. That has been scientifically proven over and over again and for a long time. Plus, we all know it because we’ve all “experienced” that first hand.

Do you think Africa is well equipped for immersive learning?

Depends on what you mean by well equipped. From an infrastructure (access to the internet) perspective, we’re badly equipped. From access to technology perspective (mobile phones and computers), we’re also miles behind. From the desired perspective, we’re exceptionally well equipped. Because this form of learning is so effective it would have a profound impact on Africa as a whole were it able to be widely deployed.

Are there plans that are set in place to equip teachers who may not be familiar with the invent of immersive learning?

The short and unfortunate answer is no. Plans for teachers to be equipped with anything for anything need to be put in place by the government. We all know what the state of our government run education system is. The only way for there to be a major shift towards more effective learning methods being implemented in our education system is for the private sector to get involved. This is happening but unfortunately, it’s a drop in the ocean when you consider the number of schools and scholars in the country.

It’s a massive task. I do foresee there being a snowball effect coming at some point in the near future. As soon as access to the internet and devices becomes ubiquitous and basically free I believe that children and enough teachers will end up equipping themselves with the knowledge and tools to be able to provide everyone with the benefit of this learning methodology. Imagine immersive learning experiences being designed and produced for kids by kids.

What are some of the challenges that developing countries could face when it comes to immersive reality and new technologies?

Aside from the obvious practical challenges of access to the biggest challenge is the design and production of locally relevant learning material. It’s easy and will become increasingly easy to find internationally created immersive learning content but will it all be relevant and localized? Unlikely. It is important that learning material consider local context, history, culture and all of those sensitivities which are a part of us and therefore things that we should value. The best way to do that is to have content designed and produced locally. At the moment there is a scarcity of qualified individuals who can design for this medium. That will change rapidly over the next few years so the challenges will decrease exponentially. We have an exciting future to look forward to.

By Neo Sesinye
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