Virtual reality technology is an effective tool to improve classroom instruction. It is used more often in schools to improve each day’s lessons. West Baton Rouge Parish Schools, Louisiana has 4,100 students. VR offered teachers a unique opportunity to engage students.
“We used ESSER to buy several ClassVR headsets within our district. Teachers of all grades incorporate VR content in the classroom. I’m the leader of the district’s tech group. We frequently present on VR technology at conferences such ISTE, FETC and TCEA. Virtual reality technology is being enjoyed by students, which is the most important benefit. They can also have virtual experiences that allow them to connect with the curriculum at a deeper level.” Here are some examples.
VR Field Trips
“This is a request that teachers often make. VR allows students to see the Great Wall of China, Rome’s Colosseum, and many other places without ever leaving the classroom. Many of our students never venture out of their neighborhood. We are located just across the river to Baton Rouge. Many of our students have never visited this city.”
“Virtual reality technology allows students the opportunity to explore the globe and discover landmarks. VR allows students a wider view than their own street. It opens their eyes to the world around them. It causes them to wonder if they could ever travel to Africa or the Great Wall of China.”
The curriculum can be made richer by being connected to the lives of students.
Enhancing the Curriculum
This is one example we love. Third-grade teachers who use VR in their ELA lessons love it. Teachers can host “engagement days” to discuss specific topics, like space, immigration, and the ocean. Students are placed in small groups and assigned stations for activities. For viewing videos about the topic, VR headsets may be used.
Teachers uploaded a VR adventure where they could swim alongside sharks and cuttlefish to the unit about ocean. 360-degree NASA videos were used to create the space unit. Students went virtual to several monuments, including to the Statue of Liberty. VR stations were loved by students during engagement days.
VR can be a lot of fun. We loved December as one of our favorite lessons. Kindergarteners were invited for a fieldtrip to Santa’s Workshop. VR headsets in class were used to allow students to ride in Santa’s sleigh while he delivers gifts. Teachers could use this lesson in addition to lessons about the North Pole.
It was a big success. It was instantly a hit. Spreading the word is the best way for teachers to use technology. This was a great case.
Virtual reality can be used to support lessons. Like any new technology, however, training and implementation are crucial. These suggestions are intended to assist districts who wish to implement virtual reality in schools.
Plan Professional Development. It Should Be Enjoyable
If they do not feel comfortable, teachers will not use technology. It is essential to explain technology in an engaging and fun way. Our tech team held a summer challenge that gamified their PD. Teachers could earn points if they tried new tech. A VR headset could be used by a teacher to show their students and to give feedback to the group. Oder they might share something via social media. They would earn points towards mugs and T-shirts.
“Gamifying PD can be a good idea, according to our experience. It makes the job much more fun and not seem as a burden. Next, look for your “tech evangelists”, the passionate teachers who love tech. Make sure they are using it. They are the ones that will encourage other teachers to join them.”
Use Tools That Are Easy to Use
It is counterproductive and distracts from the actual purpose of technology. Technology should be intuitive and easy to use. There is training available, as explained above. We offer training to teachers interested in using our tools. This includes Spheros, Lego kit, and ClassVR. The teacher can either have a student worker send them to aid them or work directly with us. Technology can only be used effectively if reliable products are available that can be quickly implemented.
Technology can help students connect to the books they’re reading and to the topics they’re researching. You can use technology to support everything from ESL instruction and specialist education. Technology is meant as a tool to assist instruction and not as a goal.
We help teachers select their teaching strategies, pedagogy, and methods. We also help teachers to find the right technology for their teaching methods. The first question we ask is: “What content are you teaching?” What are you teaching?” Next, we examine what technology can help them. Technology is a wonderful tool to enhance lessons and get students interested in the content. It doesn’t always have to make sense.
Technology can help students be inspired and engaged and bring the curriculum alive when done well. For schools and districts looking to adopt VR, or any other technology, the following considerations may be helpful.