Alternate Realities in Education

By Nancy J. McCann

The tools of the teaching trade have changed dramatically over the past 100 years: from slate tablets to blackboards, whiteboards to SMART Boards, and on to the modern-day version of the handheld slate, the Surface or iPad. But, it’s not just about using the ever-changing technology; it’s about using the technologies that best match the teaching and learning goals. Here, we introduce several Vassar alumnae/i—and just one of the many Vassar faculty members—who are exploring these issues and educating students of varied ages and abilities with the help of technology. It’s a whole new world of teaching and learning involving 3-D virtual- and alternate-reality games, online homework, interactive workbooks, touchscreens, e-mentoring, and more. Who said learning couldn't be fun?