It has been really hard. The whole world is suffering it.
Millions have been infected and hundreds of thousands have died.
Businesses have closed and schools are empty.
Is there anything good that can come out of this nightmare? I think many people will agree that the answer is yes. Despite the suffering, the despair, the loss of life, and the seemingly insurmountable financial stresses, there are some gains.
Let’s take education, for example. The traditional model of teaching and learning in most of the world has depended in a face-to-face interaction that frequently was not necessary nor possible.
Thousands of people travel countless miles to “go to class” every day, either to teach or to learn. This happens in a world where, for almost a decade now, humans can connect to anyone by live audio and video, just be reaching into their pockets and tapping on the screens of their smartphones.
The technology of this era allows us to be closer than ever. It has completely reshaped how we connect and communicate. I do understand that we frequently misuse this super-power and that many will argue that the tools we have today, in some way, have actually made us grow farther apart. I share that view.
I, nevertheless, think that we live in times of great capabilities and that technology, perhaps paradoxically, can bring us closer than ever if we use it wisely.
Zooming in (or out!)
We are all really tired of video calls. I get it. I think that using this modality as the only mean of connectivity can quickly have the complete opposite effect, disconnecting us instead.
Video-call is such a 2000s tool (actually, a 1960s one- See the PicturePhone).
In the 21st century, we have the ability to enhance video communications in ways that we could only dream of, just a few years ago.
The addition of an “experiential” component to a conference interaction, improves engagement, quality of collaboration and in the case of learning, also enhances comprehension, retention, and the overall experience.
Schools are already innovating: 4 Ways Virtual Reality is Disrupting Education in 2019
Virtual Reality (VR) allows for that immersive feature that makes 21st century conferencing, in many instances, a much better option than anything we had in the past.
Platforms like EngageVR.io and VictoryXR are an ideal example of how VR is becoming (or should become) the standard in this field. In this mode, embodied avatars collaborate, teach, and learn experientially as if they were physically present. The “Stanford Anatomy Lab in VR” production is a perfect realization of this potential:
In the case of Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality (when that VR content is superimposed to -and interacts with -the real world), solutions like Aetho.co AR Telepresence BEAME become almost a magical prospect. It’s like Teleporting to a meeting room and almost completely disrupting any known physical boundaries.
The COVID-19 / SARSCoV2 pandemic is burdening us with limitations and restrictions that we haven’t lived for at least a hundred years.
Education and work have been radically affected, and the worst is possibly still yet to come. Despite this, it is good to know that we already have the technology to make sure that instead of dispiriting and stagnating, we flourish and engage in a completely new and enhanced level of human communication and connectivity.
We Will Prevail.