I recently had the privilege to serve as a judge for the Oklahoma Wonder Grant. Through this opportunity, I learned about projects that are advancing new and exciting technologies and innovating education, business and public service throughout our state.
The first-ever Oklahoma Wonder Grant is designed to seed innovation and challenge organizations to find new ways to solve problems in our state. The grant is sponsored by Trifecta Communications and the Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth at the University of Oklahoma.
I found this initiative important, because it emphasizes technology opportunities within our state. It also creates awareness to help individuals understand technology’s expanding capabilities and how they can be used to improve all areas of our lives.
For the grant application, organizations were challenged to create a project utilizing augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies. These technologies utilize computer-generated images to stimulate interactive, immersive environments.
AR/VR technologies extend the capabilities and scope of traditional learning and work practices. OneNet has created an emphasis on AR/VR technologies through our Next-Generation Classroom initiative that aims to expand use of new technologies in the classroom, so the Oklahoma Wonder Grant program fit perfectly with my own organization’s goals.
As a judge, I looked for originality and creativity in the proposed projects and the ability to impact lives of Oklahoma’s citizens. I expected the winning project to utilize AR/VR to transform education, business or public service.
The winning project will do exactly that. The Coltrane Group created the project that the judges selected for this first-ever grant. The Coltrane Group is a nonprofit organization in Oklahoma that seeks to preserve history and aspects of African-American culture within our state and assists African-American rural towns with economic development.
The Coltrane Group’s project will create opportunities to explore Oklahoma’s history through technology. Through the grant, Trifecta Communications will build a mobile device app producing AR time-portals. This app will provide an immersive experience that transports people to the early 20th century to learn about Oklahoma’s Historic Black Towns. The Coltrane Group plans to initially introduce the app through history education at Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Projects like these are vital to teaching Oklahoma’s history and recognizing our cultural diversity. Oklahoma’s Historic Black Towns made contributions that are important to today’s society and understanding the history of Oklahoma’s development will allow us to better address future challenges. I see all of Oklahoma’s citizens benefiting from this project, especially our youth.
Leading-edge technologies like AR/VR are a passion of mine. I see expansion of these technologies shaping all aspects of our lives in the future. I’m proud to be a part of initiatives like the Oklahoma Wonder Grant that put these technologies in the hands of more citizens of our state.