By now, Virtual reality is a term we have become well accustomed to. Virtual reality is in the media and is used frequently in gaming applications. An exciting new project however is taking place in classrooms across the west of Dublin. A group of schools have come together as part of the Digital Clusters Project to collectively delve into the world of virtual reality education. St. Marks SNS, St. Anne’s NS, Sacred Heart SNS, and St. Thomas’s SNS are in the process of beginning a three-year project that will see students in their schools partaking in virtual learning classrooms. The project aims to investigate the benefits of this new technology and hopes to demonstrate that immersing students in virtual reality environments can increase their interest, learning and engagement with the subjects.
So what will it entail?
Each of the schools will be using a kit of 30 virtual reality headsets. Although all of the classes will get to experience the headsets over the three years, the project hopes to follow the progression of some classes as they use the headsets over time and become used to it as a classroom tools.
Making your own tour
Students will also have access to a 360 camera. This can be set up outdoors/ indoors on a tripod stand and can be controlled remotely so as students/ teachers can take a 360 image of a place they visit. This will allow students/teachers to create their own content. The 360 image can be loaded up to google expeditions and information markers can be attached. This way, when observed through a VR headset, the viewer will see the place as if they are there and will be able to click on markers and learn information.
Google Expeditions allows a teacher to guide students through collections of 360° scenes and 3D objects, pointing out interesting sites and artifacts along the way. This will be one of the main learning platforms used within these schools. Students will be able to explore and learn about places around the world all from the comfort of the classroom. The teacher controls allow the teacher to select objects in the students vision for them to zone in on for further instruction.
Currently there is a website being set up where schools and teachers can follow the progression of this project and see how effective the Virtual reality kits are in teaching and learning in schools.