Post 1: SGCM: Immersive Learning
Picture this: you’re a five-year-old visiting your local children’s museum. Your eyes widen with excitement as you observe the vibrant colors, the various exhibits, other children having the time of their lives. You walk into a farm where you get to milk your own cow, learn about growing and cooking your food, and sell your crops. Now, you’re able to bring your hard-earned coins to the bank, and open an account! You’re now able to experience things like shopping for groceries, checking into a flight, or buying tickets to see your favorite musical. How cool is it for you to fulfill the roles that only grown-ups can do? Now you get to be the one to push the grocery cart, to pay the cashier, and to plan your day!
The process of commerce, occupations, and societal roles: these are just a few things your child can learn at the St. George Children’s Museum. Not only are they working their creativity and imagination, but they’re using immersive learning to do it. Immersive learning is what makes children’s museums so special, but what is it?
Immersive learning is the use of a simulated or artificial environment to learn and play. Sound familiar? That’s what our museum is all about! The California Teacher Development Collaborative did an experimental session of immersive learning with students and found that immersive learning methods are more engaging, increase accountability, and solidify understanding. These learning environments are special because they also offer learners the opportunity to learn by trial and error; children have the chance to explore options, fail, and try again without real-world repercussions. In other words, immersive learning environments, like children’s museums, offer learners the opportunity to learn by doing with gamification, exploration, and sensory stimulation. Not to mention, immersive environments are the future!
When most people think of immersive environments, they think of virtual and augmented reality–and they’re absolutely right! Virtual and augmented reality are two technologies that are becoming more sophisticated and accessible, and we may see more educational spaces using them at higher rates in the near future. Touchstone Research found that virtual reality technology (like VR headsets) is the “next big thing” in educational environments due to its fun, innovative, and engaging nature.
“This type of learning has a 100% attention rate from users, is 5 times more engaging than any other media, and yields a 75 – 90% knowledge retention rate,” their article states. The research here is all based on adults in the workplace and the future of immersive, namely virtual reality, learning. This means when your children are all grown up, they’ll likely encounter VR in their work, higher education, or in their own homes.
Augmented reality (AR) is another form of immersive learning we’ll likely start to see more of in the future. While VR offers all-new, totally simulated realities to work in, AR brings in simulated elements into your real environment; it creates an interactive experience of digital aspects layered over the real world. Pokémon Go, Iron Man’s interactive holograms, and the IKEA mobile app are just a few great examples of AR.
Immersive environments are becoming more widely used by teachers, entertainers, and even the military because of their unique advantages. Immersive environments don’t have to include fancy, futuristic technology, though. The first step to understanding these environments can be as simple as pretending to be a chef in a playhouse and shopping for groceries in a fun-sized grocery store exhibit. Immersive learning is one of the elements of children’s museums like ours that can prepare your little ones for future endeavors in immersive environments in more complex ways. Here, a child can use their imagination, interact with others, and exercise innovation/invention within our walls. Who knows what skills and ideas they’ll take with them outside the museum?
(A little boy fulfills the role of grocery store clerk in our Grocery Store exhibit room. This room gives children the chance to plan a shopping trip and cross off their shopping lists as they buy their own food, just like their grown-ups do.)
(Two children enjoy the backstage area of the Theater Room exhibit and are pretending to prepare for a performance. The Theater Room immerses children into the world of theater on lots of different levels: music, lighting, audience and performance!)