Virtual Reality Classrooms: An Interview with Matthew Hodge

Several years ago, I read Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One.  The book was endlessly entertaining on several levels, but as an educator, I was particularly intrigued by Cline’s description of virtual reality school.  It may be a dystopia circa 2045, but these classrooms still set my edtech heart aflame:

Flash-forward to this year.  In the middle of the pandemic, most vendors had to resort to webinars and other teleconferencing options to share or discuss their wares.  However, I received an invite to a unique opportunity from Tierney.   It required downloading a software from Virbela, then joining a virtual campus ran by Douglas Stewart.   On the “island” was an expo hall where Tierney held their showcase:
I was even more intrigued when I found out that Douglas Stewart had allotted some space for teachers to hold classes on the campus.  After a talk with Daylon Reifsteck (Emerging Technology Specialist at Douglas Stewart), I was introduced to one such teacher: Matthew Hodge, from the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART), located in Clovis, California.  So I decided to do a first for Edtech Elixirs and screencasted a 38 minute video interview while our avatars met on the Douglas Stewart Edu Campus!  “Hodge,” as he prefers to be called, discusses his path to teaching, what CART is, the successes and challenges of his virtual reality classroom, why teacher lounges should have track lighting and live music, and the prediction for the future of both his own upcoming classes and education itself. 

Special thanks to Daylon for the introduction, and of course Hodge for the illuminating conversation!  

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