Mirabella Residents Explore the Future of Learning

August 31, 2022

Most Mirabella at ASU residents who have enrolled in ASU classes have already discovered that the “sage on the stage” model of learning, in which the instructor stands at the front of the classroom and imparts knowledge to students in a large lecture hall, is no longer the default approach to teaching and learning at Arizona State University, ranked #1 most innovative university in the country for 7 years running.

Pedagogical shifts in the last few decades have enlisted students as more active participants in their own education. Instead of being passive recipients of information, they are now expected to engage with the material and practice their developing skills through hands-on projects and experiences. This trend is further enabled through rapidly emerging learning technologies that are capable of personalizing instruction for each individual learner.

Some Mirabella students still have a special nostalgia for the big lecture hall classroom experience, and that’s okay; those classes certainly still exist. However, other Mirabella learners have enthusiastically embraced these new learning experiences and have dived headfirst into the curriculum. Having pushed through the learning curve of various online learning platforms, they’ve proven they can be as agile as their digital-native classmates.

So, if we stay on this trajectory of technology-enabled, active personalized education, what does the future of learning look like?

Mirabella residents found out first-hand at our most recent tour to ASU’s “Dreamscape Learn,” where participants complete an introductory biology course through an avatar-driven, virtual reality experience in which they explore, observe and collect digital specimens, and solve problems in an Alien Zoo with imagined wildlife. Dreamscape Immersive, the world’s leading virtual reality company, teamed up with ASU to develop Dreamscape Learn in an effort to transform education through exploration. This new partnership “merges the power of the best Hollywood storytelling with the nation’s leader in online and digitally-enhanced education to deliver fully immersive VR learning systems to the ASU community and beyond.

Here are some of the reflections Mirabella lifelong learners shared after engaging in these VR experiences:

“I can only imagine how exciting VR experiences could be in the area of history, geography, archaeology and medicine, just to name a few.  I hope we as Mirabella Learners will have the opportunity to stay engaged with the Dreamscape Learn (DSL) venture.” – Dave S.

“Dreamscape was quite an experience. It was something that had been way above my level of understanding and gave me an idea of what’s to come in the future.  It’s wonderfully creative and entertaining, but I can see the future use in teaching and language.” – Pamela G.

“Wow! This is incredible! It’s like an E-ticket to Disneyland!” – AI M.

Because of its strategic location on-campus and inclusion of Mirabella learners as fully affiliated members of the ASU community, we have the exciting opportunity to introduce the most experienced learners on campus to the future of learning, and build a vision that promotes learning and curiosity at every stage of life.