Stu­dents’ high-tech re­al­ity

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Bethany Hi­att

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.

Pic­ture: Lau­rie Ben­son

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.

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