Spying on Golems

My son bought this small Minecraft item today. He advised me on the way home that this is an Iron Golem (read the Minecraft rules here). It looks simple enough but there is a hidden surprise!

There is another world to view through the armhole. Another world is shown through a miniature lens in the sleeve.

In Minecraft world, this shows the Villager placing the pumpkin head to transform these humble blocks into a fierce, defending Golem that can spawn poppies and offer them to Villagers. Simple technology that hooks into the childhood wonder of keyhole views.


I'm thinking about new educational technology like holographic learning and the glimpses and promises that are shown for educational purposes. Including Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality in education activities is like looking into another world. There are rushed pictures of engaged students, playing games and having fun.

Here is a peek through a keyhole - 'the future of learning', 'evolutionary', 'preparing students for the future' and all of that. While being skeptical of these promises I am currently attempting to design a learning activity for this equipment.

In a recent paper, partially funded by Microsoft Hololens, Leonard and Fitzgerald (2018) states 'Consistent with previous research in this area, this project found ongoing technical and managerial limitations in implementing augmented and mixed reality, including a continuing concern by many participating teachers of a lack of control of the mixed reality environment.'. That is always a concern of new technologies, the digital literacies of the educator needs to be at least on par or half a step ahead of the students.

What keeps me coming back to this technology is the 'potential for embodied learning' (Leonard and Fitzgerald, 2018). Something that involves the whole body (even for three simple gestures) and allows you to be present in your environment, through audio and reproduced visuals, could be an irreplaceable learning experience. The benefit I see of Augmented Reality (AR) is the ability to be present in your environment, including normal auditory functions.

At the time of writing, a single pre-loved headset could set you back over $2,500AUD on eBay. That is just for the headset, then add in the cost of development skills. In comparison, a 360o View interactive video could be created for very little cost and implemented in the LMS via H5P integration. Or jump into a Virtual Reality (VR) nonfiction discovery with Dream360. The cost and skills required for the development of AR are a prohibiting factor with small student numbers.

There are no magical Golems to defend any learning issues or facilitator failures when using this type of technology.