The Global Skills and Education Forum in Dubai Showcases the Convergence of VR/AR and Education

An event that proved the importance of XR’s role in the future of education.

This March, the Varkey Foundation’s Global Skills and Education Forum (GESF) again solidified its place as the world’s premier education event and conference, bringing together over 2,000 professionals to dream up what the future of education might look like in 2030.

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Hosted at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, the event was not the typical locale for an industry conference, and the opulent setting was coupled with much celebrity fanfare: Al Gore, Charlize Theron, Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Priyanka Chopra, gave keynotes, panel discussions, and fireside chats.

Photo Credit: R3Digital

The annual Global Teacher Prize ceremony—meant to carry the weight of a Hollywood awards ceremoney—was hosted by none other than Trevor Noah, who presented the annual Global Teacher Prize to Andria Zafirakou of Great Britain.

Jennifer Hudson followed with a musical performance that included a soulful cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

But GESF 2018 also held witness to cutting-edge technologies such as VR/AR and BCI (Brain-Computer Interface).

Photo Credit: R3Digital

Through its “Future Zone”—an entire section dedicated to technology—educators and technologists mobilized behind the conference’s stated goal to imagine what education might look like in 2030 and beyond.

Photo Credit: R3Digital

Notably, the event included Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Technicolor, Imperial College London, and crowd-favorite Emotiv, whose MindDrone let users feel the thrill of piloting a drone using just their brainwaves.

Each gave attendees a new understanding of how emerging technologies might integrate into learning environments—be it to aid aspiring surgeons, help reveal the real-world impacts of racism, or to go on a journey with a trailblazing medicine woman.

Photo Credit: R3Digital

“Future Talk” panel sessions were rich in discussion around the use and implementation of emerging technologies in education.

Photo Credit: R3Digital

Topics included “Teaching Empathy,” “Virtual Super-Teacher – Scaling Up Personalised Learning,” “Practice Makes Perfect – Widening Access and Accelerating Learning through VR,” and “Teaching Digital Skills through Virtual Storytelling,” among others.

Doubling down on the emerging tech emphasis, one panel even hosted Jakki Bailey, PhD., professor and researcher at UT-Austin, who portaled in from Austin via AltspaceVR.

“I think in the next several years, virtual reality as we know it now will be something we don’t even [recognize] in the future,” Bailey said. “We’ll see this blurring between the lines of reality and virtual-digital technology.”

Blippar CEO Ambarish Mitra gave a keynote that outlined the six technological trends shaping our future, followed by augmented reality depictions through the Blippar platform.

The six trends Mitra noted were: an ever-connected world, a shift in city structures, the rise of AI, creativity in education, genetics research, and evolving concepts of energy and time.

And with a yearly gathering like GESF to bring together the top minds in education and technology, there’s hope that we’ll be able to lean into these trends as we educate future generations.

For more information on the Global Skills and Education Forum, visit the official website here.

VRScout is a proud media partner of the 2018 Global Skills and Education Forum.

About the Scout

Jesse Damiani

Jesse Damiani is Editor-at-Large of VRScout and Deputy Director of Emerging Technology at Southern New Hampshire University. He's also Series Editor for Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan University Press) and the author of @endless$pectator: The Screens Suite #loliloquy (BlazeVOX, 2017). Other writing can be found on Adweek, Billboard, Forbes, Quartz, and The Verge.

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