Learning to Fail with Immersive Technology: When Student Learning Outcomes Matter More Than Project Output

Session Description
Today’s college students often feel an immense pressure to succeed coupled with a paralyzing fear of failure. Failure in any aspect of college life can increase “fear of not making it” (FONMI), which leads to increased college drop out rates (Hibbs & Rostain, 2019). As instructional technologists, our goal is to find ways to use technology to create purposeful learning experiences for our students that extend beyond the classroom. Considering the fear of failure and incorporating digital tools leads us to questions about student learning experiences and goals. How can educators make failure acceptable in courses and across campus? How can incorporating immersive technologies help students to focus on the learning process over the output?

Through our work with students on virtual reality (VR) and immersive technology projects in traditionally non-technical courses, our goal has been to shift the focus from students completing polished VR spaces to students learning from the nuanced choices and the mistakes they make in the process. While our students have expressed that they learn the most from their mistakes, the fear of failing an assignment can cause anxiety and stress and even stop their willingness to experiment outside of their comfort zone.

This session will focus on techniques and approaches for planning assignments that focus on learning outcomes through experimentation and creation, and how to work through student barriers caused by FONMI and fear of failure. We will share examples from our experiences and invite others to discuss their experiences as well. Our co-presenter, Denison student Ronald Tran, will share insights on working with these technologies from the student perspective. Sample assignments and planning documents will be available for session attendees.

Kelli Van Wasshenova
Kelli Van Wasshenova, Denison University, OH
As an Instructional Technologist at Denison, Kelli Van Wasshenova works with faculty, staff, and students to develop a deeper understanding of how digital technologies can enhance learning experiences. Kelli helps faculty develop assignments and course curriculum that expose students to new technologies and digital tools, and she provides support to faculty for digital scholarship and research projects. In addition, she works hands on with Denison students on digital projects and class assignments, and she assists with mentoring the ETS student workers as they begin their careers working in technology.

Everyday, we see the development of new technologies that impact everyone in our society. Kelli strongly believes that, as educators in the twenty-first century, we must prepare students to navigate through this vast digital space and help them to develop the skills to make informed decisions when it comes to technology and digital media. When teaching class sessions, Kelli teaches beyond the tool or software at hand to show students how digital literacy extends outside of that class project and can be applied to life-long experiences.

Kelli’s expertise include multimedia projects (audio, video, websites), instructional design, digital humanities, digital scholarship, and project management. Her professional and research interests include digital learning environments, technology and the first generation student experience, women in technology, and literary text analysis.

Trenton Edmunds
Trenton Edmunds, Denison University, OH
Since joining the Denison community in 2001, Trenton (Trent) Edmunds has assisted faculty and staff in various technological endeavors in the classroom and in research. As part of Educational Technology Services (ETS), he works hands-on with faculty members in course design to incorporate digital tools with subject matter and pedagogical goals.

When confronted with a new idea or problem, Trent focuses on details and explores all possible outcomes and possibilities. Each student brings their own differences and realities in what they are trying to gain through instruction. By fostering their curiosities, Trent pushes students to grow and find paths that lead them to new discoveries and solutions.

Trent’s current focus is using virtual reality (VR) and immersive technologies to teach abstract and complicated subject matter. He also has expertise in geographic information systems (GIS), 3D printing, information transfer, gamification, graphic design, and multimedia software. His professional interest is in the visual and spatial communication of ideas.

Ronald Tran
Ronald Tran, Denison University, OH
Ronald Tran is a junior at Denison University studying Economics. He currently works as a student employee for the school’s Educational Technology Services, working on the development of virtual reality applications for classroom uses.
Session Type
45-Minute Interactive Session
All Audiences

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  1. As an attendee, I’m interested in receiving the sample assignments and lesson plans. My connection was spotty at the end. Do I download or can they be emailed to me?
    Thank you

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