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Moving forwards, looking back – with Daniel Colaianni

Sixth in a series of education technology experts from across the world of education looking back on a year of innovation, and anticipating what the coming one might bring for schools, colleges and universities

What three words sum up 2018’s education technology scene for you?

Inspiring. Innovative. Eye-opening.

What have been the particular challenges of 2018 for education providers?

Having a background in virtual reality and after speaking with dozens of edtech providers in the virtual reality space, funding is the number one issue in getting projects off the ground. Fortunately, the national governments and agencies are starting to realise the value in VR so there has been a slow but steady increase in grants and funds for projects to help realise its future.

What technology have you seen making an impact in education this year?

It has been a privilege to deal with both local and international pioneers in the VR Education nomination category at the VR Awards. Our nominees include MEL Science, Elara Systems and Alliander and more, with 2018’s winner being Schell Games for their HoloLAB Champions educational experience, which turns learning about chemistry into a virtual reality game show.

Academics need to try not to be put off by technology that they potentially haven’t heard of or is in its early phases because it’s in these kind of times that we really see the innovative uses come out

What has surprised you this year?

The quality year-on-year of edtech improves dramatically. Five years ago, I would never have conceived of this level of immersive edtech being on the market, transforming the future of education and increasing every year. If this is the level we are at now, where will we be in a decade?

What would you like to see education providers put on their agendas for 2019?

Education providers need to explore different avenues available for teaching future generations. As proven in numerous studies, virtual reality and augmented reality have managed to increase attention span, retention of knowledge and overall enjoyment of the educational experience. VR is invaluable to the learning environments going ahead.

What do you hope that teachers and lecturers will start to do more of next year to really make the most of all these digital opportunities?

I want to see these academics embrace digital technology into their lives, as well as into the education workspace. They need to try not to be put off by technology that they potentially haven’t heard of or is in its early phases because it’s in these kind of times that we really see the innovative uses come out. People are writing the rules and figuring out the best ways to use this technology so now is the time to experience it and learn with them for deeper insight.

It’s also very important to be able to keep up with the technology. One thing that traditional education is bad at is keeping up with the rate that technology develops. It is an academic’s duty to give their students the opportunity to be fully equipped for the workplace. Often, skills are lacking for employers, who need people prepared in these ever-advancing fields and opportunities. So when these teachers fully embrace the technology, their students have an advantage in the workplace, while also making the learning process more interesting and exciting.

Daniel Colaianni is Producer of the VR Awards