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Bloom's Taxonomy & Virtual Reality

I’ll share the graphic of the model first for those that just came for that. Feel free to download/share as you wish but please do tag me in any posts on social media! Below the graphic I’m going to write a full recount of the project, dating back to early 2018 for those that are interested in the trials, tribulations and all that went into the process. Let me just say now though – a massive thank you to Steven Sato, Chris Long and Alex Johnson for their insight, support and time helping me get this done.

So… the last month has been pretty challenging to say the least.

I’ve watched schools close and had to adjust how I work with them as a consultant but I’ve been doing it with one arm. At the end of February, I was back at the GESS Conference here in Dubai for the eighth year running and for the second year in a row, I’d coordinated and was hosting the immersive technology stage. All was going brilliantly until myself and Alex Johnson (who’d flown in for the event and was staying with me) returned to my villa to find a burst pipe had been streaming out water for hours and flooded the ground floor. After more than an hour of draining and mopping up all the water… I slipped and in trying to protect my head, took the full force on my elbow. Diagnosis – hairline fracture and a full arm cast for at least a month!

I missed the second of the three days of GESS due to the injury which was a little heart-breaking after all the work I’d put into coordinating the stage and preparing my own presentations. I did return on day three (complete with my arm in a sling) and was finally able to debut something that I’d been working on (and somewhat putting off) for around two years – my work on Bloom’s Taxonomy and VR.

Having the cast on my arm also delayed my ability to share this project more widely here on VirtualiTeach but with my arm now on the mend, I am finally in a position to share the whole thing. Let’s start with the history of the project…

It was March 2018 when I first decided to look at how Bloom’s related to VR. It was the one year anniversary of when I published my original version of the Depths of VR Model and I wanted to put something else out that would capture the attention of the broader education community and help drive interest in VR as a medium for learning. Having worked with various forms of edtech for a number of years at this point, I was very familiar with both the original and revised versions of Bloom’s model and the various incarnations of it that had been applied since Andrew Churches published Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

I must admit, it seemed at the time like simple idea to adapt. Much like the various iPad/Google App/web apps versions that have been published over the years, my aim was to share something that curated different 6DOF virtual reality experiences into some form of palatable graphic. In early 2018, with 3DOF, mobile VR being the only real experience of virtual reality that schools had access to, it was clear that a common misconception was emerging – that VR was a very passive media consumption tool and had little to offer educators who were busy harnessing iPads and the like to allow students to create and develop a range of multimedia projects. I wanted to use the alignment with Bloom’s to prove that true VR had a lot more to offer.

Simple right?

It was only when I set about completing this task that I started to hit some roadblocks. Primarily, the experiential nature of virtual reality seemed to completely negate the lowest level of Bloom’s model – “Remember” and I knew that suggesting that this could be somewhat controversial in education circles. After hunting for examples and trying to look at the project in a few different ways, it became clear that I needed some outside input so I reached out to three good friends who were already VR education pioneers - Steven Sato, Alex Johnson and Chris Long.

I started a group discussion thread with them as well as a shared document and we started to discuss the project as well as the little roadblock I had hit. They started suggesting ideas but eventually someone would justify why the suggested app was more than just remembering information. Here’s a peek at where the conversation got to around this point –

Not long after this, unable to find a resolution that we were all happy with, I shelved this for a while and moved on with some other projects. Around a year later, in February 2019 I looked at it again briefly with Chris Long and we decided that we would endeavour to complete and publish it before the end of the year. And then as many of you will already know, in May 2019 Chris suddenly died, bringing pretty much everything I was doing with VR to a screeching halt as I mourned the loss of my dear friend. If you want to learn more about how influential Chris was within the VR education community, please do watch the recording of his memorial event inside Engage to hear testimonials from a lot of other amazing people who felt the loss of this wonderful guy as much as I did.

So when I was asked to coordinate the GESS 2020 immersive tech stage around October of last year, the very first thing I pencilled in was Bloom’s Taxonomy and VR. I felt that I owed it to Chris to see the project through to the end. Looking at it with fresh eyes and two years’ worth of more VR apps to consider, I also decided that I had to stop fighting against our initial conclusion and stop trying to push experiences into the lower level of the Bloom’s Model. What was clear though was that I now had a genuine abundance of stellar 6DOF educational content that could be included on the intended graphic and I would highlight the fact that the apps on the version you see here are merely intended as examples (thanks to Alex for the input on a couple of these.)

One thing is clear to me at the end of this project. Virtual reality, REAL virtual reality truly has so much more to offer than just being a passive tool for the consumption of media. It can allow students to harness a range of higher order thinking skills from analysing historical sources to evaluating scientific experiments to using motion capture style technology to create animations. The visceral, immersive nature of the medium engages the minds of students in ways that we genuinely cannot accomplish with other forms of media.

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