There is more attention than ever in immersive technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), due much to talk concerning the Metaverse and Web 3.0, with many considering it to be the Internet’s next frontier. The ever-increasing relevance of immersive technology literacy among educators, including those in the field of applied linguistics has become undeniable. Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities in Learning (MAVR) SIG members have been at the edge of this wave of innovation for the past decade. If you are still unclear on what immersive technology is, or what the Metaverse is all about, please check the official website (https://sites.google.com/view/mavrsig).
Who We Are
MAVR (pronounced “may-ver”) is a diverse group of researchers and educators who are passionate about exploring and furthering research related to augmenting learning processes with emerging immersive technology. Much of our work goes toward the promotion of these technologies for language learning purposes, as well as for exploring the use of mixed reality (MR), AR, and VR-based activities for general education. As a group, MAVR provides a platform for individuals to share the latest in hardware and software applications as well as personal endeavors toward creating new technologies in this space. Our group also promotes discussion of the ethical considerations inherent when students’ digital data and identity become increasingly part of the educational process.
We were founded in 2017 with Eric as the coordinator. Since then, this small but active group has been organizing unique and innovative events showcasing applications involving extended reality technologies for various educational purposes, most especially for language learning. One such event of note was an AR rally organized with 200 participants that aimed to implement AR in student driven, gamified, community engagement activities.
What We Do
MAVR’s membership is one of the smallest in JALT, but members have been active in promoting their projects at JALT events, with several winning Best of JALT awards over the last few years. Almost all of the MAVR officers have received recognition from applying these new technologies. For example, a project by Eric won several international awards. Most notably, his AR project was selected as a world finalist by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in which he was recognized as a top innovator in digital solutions for the tourism industry moving to the future.
In addition, Roberto Figueroa secured a grant from the Japan International Christian University Foundation (JICUF) and led a hackathon on creating virtual tours for the campus using a VR application. Students who participated in the activity realized how VR can be utilized to help share location-based information to family and friends. In March 2022, Mehrasa Alizadeh, in collaboration with the Teaching Young Learners (TYL) SIG, held an online event on a virtual platform that combined video-conferencing with spatial audio and other interactive features—one of the first of its kind.
What We Look Forward To
Despite the continuing disruptions of COVID-19, which made logistics for in-person events extremely challenging, we are very committed and optimistic with the events that we have in store in the coming months for members and fellow enthusiasts. The field of immersive technology in education is accelerating even faster due to these global trends.
There are several technology development projects now open to larger participation from other researchers, universities, and SIGs. The My Hometown Project is a platform to supplement lost or canceled study abroad programs with VR, and Reality Labo is a collaborative media platform to develop creative skills using AR.
The SIG is also honored and excited to help sponsor Mehrasa as one of the plenary speakers at PanSIG 2022 to be held in the University of Nagano on July 8-10. Mehrasa’s talk, Reimagining technology enhanced language learning: Looking back, moving forward, will touch upon the way immersive technologies can influence technology enhanced language learning by looking at the past and current trends of research and practice within this field.
We expect to have more exciting events and collaborations this year with Japan and the rest of the world as technological change to disruptions continue. We are very optimistic about the future and we would like to invite fellow enthusiasts to join us in continuing this adventure together. For further information, please feel free to reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.