What Jeff Bezos and Dr. Sheila Riley Have in Common ?
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to prove that education transformation is being embraced. This past week incredible news broke out on two fronts within education. The first piece of news is that the owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos decided to fund a private free pre-K12 solution[i] for underprivileged children. The second piece of news was Dr. Shiela Riley, Principal of Nathan Hale High School[ii] in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who successfully received funds and approval for a significant immersive learning solution with augmented and virtual reality for all students. Nathan Hale High School will become one of the leading K12 schools in the Tulsa Public School System and across the country. They will become the top school due to the vision, passion, and talent assembled to engage students in an immersive manner. This major transformation will happen while most schools are still working from textbooks, laptops, and Zoom.
In both of these news-breaking events, Jeff Bezos and Dr. Shiela Riley show their passion for leading and transforming education in a significant manner. They are also proving that they have each invested many years of their life leading different areas of the nation at two ends of the spectrum. Jeff Bezos has transformed how people receive products and services, while Dr. Riley has reinvented blended learning and education pathways at Nathan Hale High School to improve student success. What they both have in common is they have learned and applied the concept of putting people first. In Jeff Bezos’s case, he became an artist at redefining how you treat customers by calling them ‘Prime’ customers. In Dr. Riley’s case, she has invested years in reaching and teaching students on a personal level. Once she experienced immersive learning with augmented and virtual reality at Oral Roberts University, she knew this was the next breakthrough in student engagement and success.
Why all the excitement in this transformation and what will the impact be?
Both of these endeavors will transform education and improve society. Jeff Bezos is setting a pattern for pre-K12 that allows individuals to believe and hope that education can be free. By the time these underprivileged preschoolers get to college, I hope their educational experience can be free. I also hope that each student has the same ‘prime’ service that they deserve. Few people know that in 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt passed the 30-human rights[iii] with the intent that all human beings could have some equality. Human right number 26 states, “It is the right for every human being to be educated.” Imagine if we could see Amazon Prime service combined with Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement that everyone deserves a free education. It may be possible to see a major shift on a universal scale. Rather than only 6% of the world having a post high school degree, that 100% will be treated as ‘prime’ students with instant and easy access to education. I find it ironic, that Jeff Bezos’ new initiative purposely exchanges the word students with customers. Imagine a world where underprivileged students feel that they are prime customers.
Dr. Riley’s new initiative is truly at the center of transformation. Immersive learning with augmented and virtual reality has proven to transform and improve all levels of education. With all the potential technologies a school could use, augmented and virtual reality has the most significant impact on student engagement and success[iv].
The clear winner over the past three years is augmented and virtual reality. When applied with blended and immersive learning, as Dr. Riley envisions, it dramatically enhances students’ success. Augmented and virtual reality is such a potential transformer because human nature will always lean toward the elements that closely align with how people feel, think, and respond to their surroundings and environments. The ability and degree to which technology can allow humans to feel successful, technologically savvy, non-threatened, and in control of disruptive change will ultimately be the center of educational change. The smartphone illustrated this very point — the smartphone personalized technology advancements with text, voice, apps, entertainment, music, and email. The smartphone was the closest extension of the human mind and body that found the combination of resembling how I perceive my life, yet allow me to feel as if I am advancing into the tech-realm with the rest of the world. Figure-1 below illustrates the future of technology transformation with immersive learning with augmented and virtual reality at the center of that transformation.
Figure 1 – Immersive Learning with AVR at the center of transformation
Lest you think that I am too biased toward the human aspect, let’s review the theory by the person labeled as having the highest IQ in the world, Christopher Langan[i]. Christopher has an I.Q. of 190-210, compared to the 140-160 range of leading scientists. Christopher has masterfully developed the theory of the relationship between mind and reality, which he calls the “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe”. In summary, Christopher states that human experience will reach a point that it surpasses computers or science’s intelligence. His research is intense, yet persuasive as it is proving out as we progress in time. His theory and that of many other thought-leaders conclude that the most remarkable results in advancing the world are the combination of mind and computing power. This combination produces the most extraordinary human experience and science-based reality — which is the essence of augmented and virtual reality.
Augmented and virtual reality hits the center of allowing humans to extend the visual nature of our human-experience through computing power. It will enable people to sense/view a combined aspect of themselves, the future, and personalized experiences to produce newfound knowledge in their ‘mind’s eye’. The minds-eye[ii] allows human beings to visualize change, advancement, and technological savvy – all at once. Even though I have worked on supercomputers and experienced some of the most amazing technological advances, I still recognize that our sensory organs, heart, spirit, and brain make up the culmination of intelligence perceived by our minds-eye. Augmented and virtual reality plays perfectly into the ability to extend and expand our minds-eye. This explains why Pokémon Go (classified as augmented reality) is so successful. It allows the smartphone to extend the human experience even further into the imagery of our competitive nature and the environments in which they live, or dream of living. In my opinion, Dr. Shiela Riley’s passion and experience in education will make her one of the country’s leading thought leaders in education transformation. I like what the Chief Operating Officer of ImaginXavr[iii] Suresh Katamreddy states about Nathan Hale and Dr. Shiela Riley … “Nathan Hale is stepping into the future with immersive learning through augmented and virtual reality. Under the leadership of Dr. Riley, they are imaging the future of education, while putting the power and transformation in the hands of faculty and students to set the stage the rest of the world. She understands that technology does not replace human interaction and engagement, but enhances it; which is our very mission for immersive learning.”
Dr. Riley is glowing over this next step of transformation and very appreciative of Joe Jennings[iv], Interim Chief Information and Analytics Officer for Tulsa public Schools insights and leadership as they have planned this transformation initiative.
Dr. Shiela Riley, Principal at Nathan Hale High School, Tulsa Oklahoma