Disrupt the traditional reality of schools and education by augmenting it.

Technology use in education can certainly speed up our use of paper. However, that use maintains things as they are. Why are we “inventing new gadgets to teach the same old stuff in a thinly disguised version of the same old way”? (Seymour Papert, 1972).

To disrupt the norm, we should try to urge the conversation about schools and computers in a new direction. Let’s talk about how to get students to learn together with computers and technology, not isolated individually in a corner at a computer terminal. Let’s talk about the unknown possibilities of creating new unknown ideas and projects. And let’s talk about Seymour Papert!

Papert’s work traces the ideas of Dewey, Montessori, and Piaget to his ideas about a method to teach students how to think and build with computers. His suggestions go far beyond a simple computer lab or a computer in every classroom. Seymour Papert urges us to integrate computer science into the entire curriculum.

What happens when we make room for student control of the artifacts they produce and the topics they study? Classrooms can change. Schools can change.

Disrupt reality: We can aim at something other than test scores and grade point averages.

Experimental programs where students use computers in new exploratory ways have grown to become curricular models. In the past three decades, Seymour Papert helped push at the edges of what tradition expects. The students in his pilot programs often surpassed the test performance of those students who completed the traditional course without technology.

So what are we waiting for?

Let’s consider what might come next. Join me in considering a radical leap to three-dimensional virtual learning environments (3DVLE) in the classroom. And for school use, let’s also consider more than individual virtual reality goggles.

The unknown landscape resides somewhere where students together explore a multi-user augmented reality space. This will allow for offline and online interactions to happen in tandem. With augmented reality, 3DVLE classroom spaces can remain markedly human and preserve the intangible qualities of working together.