In today's class, we covered the common science fiction theme of virtual reality. Virtual reality is a term used to describe any virtually created environment that an individual can, in some way, enter. A modern example is the headset known as The Oculus Rift.
We began class with a quickwrite:
1. Are we too reliant on electronic technology? Why, or why not?
2. What are your thoughts on virtual reality? Do you think realistic virtual reality technology would have positive or negative effects on our society? Why?
After discussing responses to these questions, we watched a film version of a Ray Bradbury short story entitled "The Veldt". The questions to accompany the video are attached below the video.
We discussed Bradbury's negative portrayal of virtual reality and then contrasted it with Chris Milk's Ted Talk on virtual reality. Note that in Bradbury's vision, virtual reality pushes people apart and makes them less empathetic toward each other; in Chris Milk's vision, virtual reality brings people together and makes them more empathetic toward each other.
After this video, we had a discussion guided by the following questions:
1. Does Bradbury's or Milk's vision of virtual reality seem like a more realistic outcome?
2. Do you think virtual reality technology with be used more as a tool for creating empathy or simply for entertainment and escapism?
3. As a society becomes more and more globally connected, why is empathy so important?
Finish any incomplete work on the Bradbury questions, and read to page 111 in I, Robot.
Chris Trompas - English teacher at the Learning Choice Academy in Chula Vista and La Mesa, CA.