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Part of my job is to think about the future of online learning. Institutional capabilities and competencies can’t be built overnight. Universities need to begin learning about what might be coming well in advance of that future.

Until this week, my interest in learning about the potential of XR (mixed reality) in relation to my institution’s online education portfolio has been limited. I’ve been happy that some of the smartest folks on my campus have been experimenting in this space, but joining that particular party has not been a priority.

With the announcement of Apple Vision Pro, my thinking has changed. While I still think it will be a seven- to 10-year process for XR to be widely integrated into our daily online education operations, I now believe that we are likely on that path.

After watching the Vision Pro demos, I’ve begun to imagine an online education XR future in areas as diverse as virtual labs and immersive digital seminars.

As the technology of the XR equipment improves and the price comes down, I can see the headsets becoming as ubiquitous as phones. Instructional designers will need to work with subject matter experts to develop educational modules optimized for multiplatform interactions.

Everything from online alternative/microcredentials to degree-based courses will need to perform in every environment, from laptops to tablets to phones to XR headsets.

XR will not replace other learning technologies but rather be layered on top of all the ways that online (and blended) learning is done.

With evolved thinking comes the need for new practices. The Apple Vision Pro is the first XR product that our online learning community needs to get our hands on and our heads around.

Budgets are tight, and the Apple Vision Pro is mad expensive. Campus online education groups will need to make the argument for investment in hardware and time for experimentation. Determining where XR fits into digital education and online learning will take a sustained effort.

The time is now to start planning for those investments and figuring out how to get our hands on as many Apple Vision Pros as we can once they start shipping.

What is your plan to start playing with these things?

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