VR and EdTech Could Help Shrink the Class Divide

August 29, 2016 - 2 minutes read

America has a class divide problem, and nowhere is that problem more apparent than in the school system. Programs like Teach For America work against the odds, but the facts remain: students born in the right places with the right level of family stability and income come out far ahead of those without. The question for mobile app developers is: how can tech help?

Technologies like VR and mobile apps are often associated with the “iPhone class,” but EdTech founders are beginning to show how the increased availability of these technologies could work to make education better, safer, and more meaningful for those who might otherwise go without. Walter Duncan, a former inner-city teacher turned EdTech startup founder, has found incredible success creating apps that solve inefficiencies for teachers — and is among a crop of passionate, experienced Chicago iPhone app developers keep to apply that success to fixing the whole system.

In a TechCrunch interview, Duncan suggested that VR experiences could level the playing field for inner-city kids dramatically, by making the location of themselves and their teacher less relevant. While it’s hard for those from affluent backgrounds to imagine strapping a VR headset on their kid and sending them to virtual school, parents in areas where schools are rife with violence could warm up to the idea. If you’re willing to send your child on a four-hour daily subway commute just to get them into a different district for better teachers, the ability to enhance or even replace traditional education with tech-enabled home alternatives could be a literal life-saver.

The EdTech revolution has already happened in many areas of personal education. How long will it take to see that type of disruption in the broken US inner-city education system? Only time will tell — but if startup founders have any say, it’ll be sooner than later.

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