Students’ high-tech reality
An Albany primary school is believed to be the first in Australia to use virtual reality sets in the classroom.
Mt Lockyer Primary School students will be able to swim with sharks, watch World War I bomber planes flying overhead or take a drive on the moon’s surface using ClassVR, a virtual reality product launched in England earlier this year.
The school decided to buy a class kit of eight headsets and a year’s access to resources, at a cost of about $4000, after hosting a demonstration session for other schools in August.
Deputy principal Barbara Jeremic said the technology opened up learning in ways teachers had not experienced before. “You can go anywhere,” she said. “It just opens up experiences that students can’t possibly have. It can bring the world to them.
“Down the track, we’re looking at getting a 3D camera so we can start to make our own virtual reality.”
Ms Jeremic said because of recommendations that students should not wear the headset for more than three minutes at a time, they were encouraged to take turns describing what they saw while other pupils made notes.
Year 4/5 teacher Sasha Claughton said she next planned to use the headsets when introducing the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist by immersing students in a London street scene from the 1800s. Justin Cantrill, director at WA company ImmersiveIT, which is distributing the headsets in Australia and New Zealand, said it was seeing overwhelming interest in the product.
It operated as a standalone unit without the need for a mobile phone or computer.
“ClassVR is the first virtual reality of its kind to hit the education market and we have been inundated by inquiries from schools all over the country,” he said.
Mt Lockyer Primary School Year 4 students Leeshay Elphick and Paige Johnson and Year 5 student Chase Ling try out the new virtual reality sets.