St George’s – How does Virtual Reality fit into education?

16 Mar 2018

Virtual Reality (VR) is still very early in its development and implementation, but forward thinking schools are using it as a teaching tool which immerses pupils in a 3D environment. This brings to life the learning experience as students can ‘feel’ and ‘experience’ the content being taught making it more engaging, fun and memorable.

Committed to being a school that exploits new opportunities that enhance the education of our students, we have recently purchased and are currently trialling ‘Google Expeditions’ which is the most popular VR app used by schools at the moment. The technology involves a teacher directing the class using a VR tablet, students using virtual reality headset viewers, such as the Google Cardboard viewer, which are connected to smartphones, and a router to connect them all together.

All this equipment is fully mobile and can be taken to any classroom and be used by any member of teaching staff. There is a fast-growing library of content on the internet covering a vast range of educational topics. We will be supplementing this with our own 3D VR camera which can be used to record images that have been uploaded into the 3D environment for pupils to view through their headsets. This will allow our students to create their own VR experiences.

There is enthusiastic interest from teaching staff across the curriculum. The range of topics we can explore in the classroom is varied and broad with examples being: Geography expeditions to the Arctic; Biology trips inside the human body;  Graphic Communication trips inside buildings that students have created; History trips to famous battlefields; Classics trips to ancient Rome; Music trips to conduct a famous symphony orchestra; Chemistry trips inside a molecule and Physics trips to Mars.

To complete our VR provision, we have invested in additional VR technology which allows the user to interact with the virtual environment using motion-tracked handheld controllers. Imagine yourself floating in space and being immersed in the solar system; you look around, choose a planet, walk towards it, pick it up in your hands and turn it around. You touch different areas to find out more information, which pops up in space in front of you. Once you are finished you throw the planet back to the orbit, it came from. We trialled this at the end of the summer term, with students ranging from Primary 1 to Upper 6; not many changes in education get the same reaction across the year groups, but this certainly did, “wow!”.

If you would like to find out more about how we plan to use VR at St George’s visit us by contacting our admissions department T: 0131 311 8008.