“Envisioning Virtual Reality” authors Meredith Thompson, David Kaser, and Kara Grijalva collaborate to create a toolkit for educators interested in applying VR in K12 education. These three bring the education and experience to provide workable solutions that can be duplicated in a variety of classroom settings.
Meredith Thompson Ed.D.
Early on, I remember being fascinated by science. My mom and my dad encouraged and supported this interest. One of my goals is to share my passion with other people.
I am currently a research scientist and lecturer for the Scheller Teacher Education Program. I’m interested in learning how people work collaboratively, how to use games to help students learn, and how to use virtual and simulated environments for learning STEM topics. I studied chemistry at Cornell, have a master’s in science and engineering education from Tufts, and a doctorate in science education from Boston University. I have two current projects: the Collaborative Learning Environments for Virtual Reality (CLEVR) is creating a cross platform collaborative game about cellular biology, and INSPIRE is a group of education professors who are using games and simulations in teacher preparation. I also use games and simulations when I teach the STEP course: “Understanding and Evaluating Education.” I think VR can be a powerful tool in learning, however, technology does not revolutionize education – educators, engaging learning activities, and well planned implementations are essential to success.
In my spare time, I write and sing music with my twin sister Chris (www.cmthompson.com), write poetry, and enjoy hiking in the woods with my two sons and my dog.
When I think of VR and the role it can play in education, I see possibilities. The possibility that allows abstract material to suddenly make sense for the student who is a concrete thinker. The possibility to show the spatial relationships a 2-dimensional drawing struggles to justify. The possibility that allows the creative mind to produce spatial art in a medium that is relatively new and untapped. Yet at the same time, it is just another tool. Without effective planning and instruction, it is a gimmick. The power of VR lies in the hands of two groups of people: programmers who design quality content and effective teachers who realize the key to effective instruction does not lie in the tools, but in lesson design and relationships.
I am a 20-year teaching veteran, having spent my entire career in the Barberton City School District, a 2019 Ohio finalist for the PAEMST award, and a finalist for the 2019 State of Ohio Teacher of the Year. I graduated from the University of Akron for both my undergraduate and master’s degrees. I began my career teaching middle school mathematics and science. Over the years, my work with technology integration opened the door to teach computer applications. During this time, I began serving as a building technology coordinator, a position I still currently hold. I have had the privilege to design, create, and implement both the middle school and high school’s STEM programs in Barberton. I was honored to be selected as the ITIP State of Ohio Outstanding Technology-Using Teacher Award in 2018, recognized by ISTE as a Make It Happen educator, granted the Martha Holden Jennings’ Arthur S. Holden Teacher Award for Excellence in Science Education in 2012, and was selected to the Summit County All-Star Teaching Team in 2014. Recently my work implementing virtual reality in education has opened doors to collaborate with fellow educators and is featured on the Google for Education Transformation Center webpage.
I am an international development practitioner specializing in evidence-driven education programs in low-resource and conflict-affected communities, including managing ICT programs across Africa and Asia. I have an M.Ed in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and M.A in Development Management from SIT Graduate Institute.
Envisioning Virtual Reality – EnvisionXR