Have you ever been to a rock concert? If not, let me help you out. Here is U2 performing “Where The Streets Have No Name”. I’m not a big U2 fan but I like this song. (start at 45 sec)
U2 have been doing concerts for a long time; they know how to do it effectively. What struck me about this video is the crowd. They are wet and probably cold and yet they are 100% in the moment. They are singing, dancing and focused with all of their being on the music and show. There are only a few time in your life when this actually happens. That is why even though we have records, CDs and streaming, concerts are still doing well. There is just something about the whole experience. I bet each of you reading can still remember the best concert you ever saw in person right? I can. The best bands out there can create a show that just blows you away and keeps you enthralled for the whole thing. Another place that teaches and can provoke a emotional response is in some churches.
So how does this relate to learning?
It’s tricky being a teacher. I believe that different parts of the brain are engaged so it’s hard to create the sort of experience you find in a concert. Even so, is it impossible? How close can we get to a learning experience that is enthralling? Well, listening to a lecture in a large lecture hall is probably not going to do it although some lecturers are very good (See: Sir Ken Robinson). Instead we might turn to technology to provide a more immersive experience.
Virtual Reality is on the cusp of being a consumer product finally. There are a lot of companies that have recently announced VR headsets. Time will tell which ones are good of course. Even so, I bet there will be some good ones (watch what Apples does). Virtual Reality has the potential to provide experiential learning in a very immersive way. See, this is what a rock concert does. It’s a very immersive experience because it uses all your senses. For learning to be more than just something you have to do to pass the next test, it has to move more in that direction.
What we want is a learning experience that is very memorable so you can learn what you need to know. One key I believe is choice. Being forced to learn something is like being forced to attend a concert of a band you don’t like. Not going to be fun. 🙂
Here is a video of a VR horror game. Seems pretty scary and immersive!!
If you have a great concert memory, put it in the comments below!