Shelby Preps Students For DC Trip Using Virtual Reality

  • 10/2/2018 4:03:00 PM
  • Jenna Ramolt
  • Local News

SHELBY, OH - Students today are provided with a new set of tools to revolutionize learning, and Shelby City Schools exemplifies this with virtual reality headsets that can take students anywhere in the world.

Paulette Ream, a middle school computer teacher and the District Tech Coach, gave students a "virtual field trip" to Washington D.C. Tuesday using virtual reality (VR) headsets. This was in preparation for a field trip that nearly the entire eighth-grade class will embark upon Wednesday.

"These kids are wifi kids, and we are using landline strategies," said Ream. "So we're trying to get them away from just doing paper pencil things, and doing some activities that will be real and relevant to their learning."

The headsets were purchased by the district, as well as the apps teachers use to guide students along. The iPods, however, were funded by a donation from Mike and Katie Medley, two Shelby graduates who wanted to give back to Shelby City Schools.

The iPods are loaded with apps that carry videos that are viewable from 360 degrees, giving the illusion that you are standing in a whole new place. Students can stand at the base of a mountain, swim underwater, watch a volcano erupt up close, or in this case, see every monument in Washington D.C. The app Ream used even provided scripts for teachers to read from as students explored their virtual environments. The program allows the teachers to select certain items for the students to focus on, making sure they all remain on the same page. In some programs, students can independently select items that they are curious about to learn more.

So far the VR has been used in elementary, middle, and high schools, and Ream says it's a totally different experience. Kids are excited about learning using this new technology, and experience places they may have never seen before and may not have the opportunity to see in the future. Ream told the story of one young girl who got to see the ocean for the first time through virtual reality.

Eighth grade student Carson Garrett said of the VR, "I think it's a great educational experience for every student... for those kids or schools who aren't fortunate enough to go on a D.C. trip, this kind of gives them a base to go off of and more of an experience."

As for what comes next, Ream says she hopes they will someday get to use augmented reality, which involves interacting with the virtual environment. Kids could dissect frogs for biology without ever touching the frog in real life- only on the screen. It's a whole new kind of learning for a whole new generation.

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