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Reality, Virtuality, and Education

Between Reality and the Virtual:
Education in the 21st Century

Paul Grobstein

24 June 2007

(notes for a talk in the summer institute on Virtual Thinking) 


Acknowledging the virtual in "reality"

  • An example
  • More examples
  • Perception, understanding as "stories"
  • Implications for education
    • Understanding is different, will be achieved differently in different people
    • Understanding needs to be created, not absorbed
    • Requirement for open-ended, transactional inquiry as classroom mode
The computer as tool for inquiry education, comparable to telescopes/microscopes Learning in/from virtual worlds Bottom line of this story
  • The line between reality and the virtual is becoming, will continue to become increasingly blurred
  • Students need to acquire increased sophistication in working in the space between reality and the virtual ... in virtuality
  • Computers and virtual worlds have an important role to play in enhancing such sophistication
  • Computer models, like any other subject of exploration, need to be approached as incentives for inquiry rather than as answers
Your thoughts?


Anonymous's picture


In the eye of the beholder:

Integrating diversity by collective Divine consciousness of individual thought patterns resulting in a level of integrating diversity into variable genetic changes, edges the balance of excess to renewed, continuously changing parameters from the source.

We have come so far away and are back to where it went wrong like last time once further. The moral dilemma structure seems like a cosmological constant of Sacred intent showing exponential paradoxality in it’s unlimited limitation with unwound harvests of light.

Geneva Tolliferreo's picture

Life and Langton

Life: I wanted to know what would happen if I placed the together 3 green dots apart (the dots representing people). Each trial of 1 step resulted in the dots disappearing (the people became extinct). When the dots (people) were placed side by side, they remained alive and stable. Thus, this proves no man is an island, we are our brothers' keeper, and we need each other to survive. God gave Adam Eve because He said that it was not good for man (humans) to be alone. Langton: We all have our purpose. The purpose of our purpose is not to loose sight of our purpose and remain purpose driven to fulfill our purpose. Regardless of the obstacles, deterrents, and/or challenges of 'life happens'. Even ants have purpose, other than inviting themselves to our picnics. Good for the ants...we should be so diligent and committed to finding our way out of chaos and the road to our purpose. A German proverb in the words of my Bishop...the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing...
Paul Grobstein's picture

More on reality, the virtual, virtuality ...

Thanks Anne and Howard for shared enjoyment of our morning together. Yes, indeed stereograms are, like ambiguous figures, a good way to notice how much we live in virtuality all the time. The images presented to the two eyes give the brain ambiguous (in fact conflicting) information which it (in some people) resolves by creating a sense of depth. There are some figures illustrating this in the notes for a class I teach at Bryn Mawr.

Speaking of this, "more such sessions" are available through one of the other summer institute programs: Brain and Behavior. Delighted to have you/others join me there.

If anyone is watching carefully, I made some minor changes in the morning notes to reflect thoughts afterward. The title is now "Between Reality and the Virtual ..." instead of "Between Reality and Virtuality ..." and there are related changes in the "Bottom Line". The point is to use the term "virtuality" for the space between the "real" and "the virtual".

Anne's picture

Great session

It was a great session, but too short. Wished it could have been longer. Would love to attend more such sessions

Howard Piltz's picture

Monday am lecture

I enjoyed your lecture and can see why perceptions are not real but virtual for a lot of us when using optical illusions.
My question is, what are steriograms? real or virtual?
Howard Piltz

Paul Grobstein's picture

New directions in education ...

Alan et al,

Thanks in turn for the work you all did. Yeah, I had some thoughts in mind going in, but where it all came out was as much your doing as mine. For example, I knew that I wanted to get across the points that the "real" is more "virtual" and the "virtual" more "real" than we often think. But the idea that we all live in "virtuality", the space between "reality" and "imagination" emerged as we talked. And I like that way of thinking about things.

Finding good metaphors for education is important. And I like your "journey" with its emphasis on knowing where students are beginning. Maybe though we shouldn't expect to "properly guide them to the destination" so much as to encourage them to move in new directions that may be as individual as where they start? Yep, "equip them with the tools to construct knowledge themselves". Without perhaps knowing for sure "if the blueprints we provide are sufficient" except by whether the students do things that contribute to our own explorations? Yep, new assessment tools very much needed.  Maybe relevant in further thinking:

Alan Bronstein's picture

Today's session


Thank you for all the work you did for us. The session was interesting, relaxed, and involving. I plan to make use of a number of the ideas. Moreover, the "affective objectives" will be retained and built upon. They reenforce my belief that we have to find out where our kids are before we can really know how to get them to where we want them. You might say that if we view education as a journey and if we don't know where our students are beginning (and what they believe they are seeing along the way), we can't expect to properly guide them to the destination.

Another analogy:
Somehow we will have to find a way in this century to equip them with the tools to construct the knowledge themselves. How are we to know if the blueprints we provide are sufficient? We need to find a new set of assessment tools, don't we?

Any suggestions? I'm open!

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