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How to Make Technology Work for Learners, Not the Other Way Around

Man using a laptop computer

Denis Hurley is Director of Future Technologies at Pearson.

“We explore emerging technologies,” he says. “Often these are technologies developed for other industries, like the military or entertainment companies or medical research firms.”

Denis actually studied film production in college.

“I loved telling stories,” Denis says. “I was drawn to the process of developing film, matching it with sound, cutting it all together, and producing something that gave viewers an experience.”

“It was like creating something out of nothing,” he says.

“In the same way,” Denis says, “many of the technologies available to learning today can transport students in powerful ways.”

Denis Hurley quote - “This is not about putting technology before pedagogy, though. We want to equip teachers and parents to use these tools to improve the learning experience.”

Learning as a Social Experience

Consider virtual reality.

“The physical and virtual worlds are virtually indistinguishable,” Denis says. “The brain doesn’t know the difference.”

“The brain believes it’s in the virtual space,” he says.

The military and entertainment industries have been successful integrating this technology into their work.

“Still, we know that learning has to be a social experience,” Denis says. “And in its most fundamental form, virtual reality walls off teachers from their students as users engage with the technology.”

He suggests using virtual reality to send students, say, to Rome—then engage in class over their experience and what they learned.

Catching the Future Early

“Technology is going to play a greater role in all of our lives,” Denis says.

“This is not about putting technology before pedagogy, though,” he says. “We want to equip teachers and parents to use these tools to improve the learning experience.”

One of the newest technologies Denis and his team are exploring involves the concept of “biosyncing.” It further shortens the distance between the virtual and physical worlds.

“It’s important that a learning company like Pearson understand how to use these tools and understand how they work in the early stages of their development,” he says.