Experiencing Virtual Reality
Parveen Loodu

Do you want to take a walk through an African Safari or visit the Colosseum in Rome without having to renew that expired passport or take weeks off to travel? Well, students at Southridge can now ‘explore’ the world right here on campus!

In December of 2021, we introduced our school to a new Virtual Reality (VR) system, acquired from funds raised at the school’s 2020 virtual gala. The school purchased a Lenovo VR Classroom 2 kit that consists of 24 headsets, a storage charging cart, and tablet for classroom management.

VR involves the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment of lesson-appropriate content which can be explored in 360 degrees. Unlike traditional interfaces, VR places the user inside the virtual environment. In a VR setting, students can interact with what they see as if they’re actually there. This technology empowers teachers to easily and flexibly integrate virtual reality into their curriculum, leading to inspiration, student engagement, and meaningful learning outcomes.

“There has been a soft introduction this year that has allowed the teacher technology leaders, and students in Grades 7-12 the opportunity to try out the new VR technology and become better acquainted with it,” explains Helen Setsikas, Information Technology Director. “As new content becomes available, we will be adding to our digital library for subject based learning such as science (biology, physics), history, math, and other programming for students in Grades 5 and up. Teachers are permitted to request the VR kit and can control the content through a central portal to manage the VR settings. From there, they can decide if and how they want to build the VR programming into their curriculum.”

Virtual reality can improve education by providing students with memorable and immersive experiences that would otherwise not be possible…all in the classroom. For example, learning about planets by actually exploring in space or understanding 3D shapes by interacting with them are unique and fun ways to learn. VR shows real life examples of nature at its best which involves more senses and creativity. This type of learning can spark students’ imaginations and motivate them to explore new academic interests as well as learn about cultures from around the world.

“We’re looking forward to providing our faculty and students with the opportunity to learn more about this technology and how it can benefit their learning in the coming years,” says Ms. Setsikas.

Contributed by Parveen Loodu, Communications and Marketing
Originally published in Spirit Magazine - Spring 2022