Case Study: Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Virtual Reality (VR) is gaining traction across the education space, bringing rich and engaging experiences to the classroom. From immersive applications to 3D worlds, it’s creating new ways to teach subject material and reach learning outcomes.

First Up

Since 1956, Orewa College has been operating as a supportive and challenging centre of learning, promoting high levels of academic achievement in co-curricular activities. With a focus on preparing students for the future, Orewa College strives to incorporate unique educational experiences within the classroom.

As a large Year 7-13 school of almost 2000 students, Orewa College has been working on implementing VR (Virtual Reality) within the classroom. As the first school in New Zealand to adopt a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model, Orewa College believed VR was the next space of innovation they wanted to explore.

With New Era taking over ICT support of the college, both partners sat down and created a plan to effectively integrate VR into a project-based curriculum.

Solution

As a thought leader in education across New Zealand, Orewa College, with the help of New Era, deployed an HP EliteDesk 800 G3 Tower with a dedicated GTX 1080 to support the HTC Vive Pro VR headset. The school was also fortunate enough to win New Era’s competition and receive an HP Z VR Backpack with HTC Vive VR headset. Optimised for free roaming, the VR backpack allows students to immerse themselves in a range of virtual experiences.

Incorporating VR into Orewa College’s learning environment has opened up further opportunities to create new projects and utilise programs like Google Sketch-up.

“It is a great incentive for certain design projects. Students are able to walk around or pick up their designs. Right now, VR is used primarily for Google Earth visits and sketch-up design experiences.” – Richard Wells, Deputy Principal, Orewa College.

With greater autonomy over projects, design and architecture students are gaining technical insight around what they create in digital platforms. Leveraging virtual programs like Unity further facilitates these outcomes and garners purpose for VR in the classroom.

Looking Forward

With so much opportunity to develop how VR is utilised within Orewa College, the school has given students the responsibility to proactively develop its use as a learning resource. Through the creation of a student rollover team, teachers keen to incorporate VR in the classroom will be able to collaborate and learn more about the technology in partnership with the students.

“In 2020, we have dedicated more time during the week for all students to run their own personal projects. We will have a team of experts in using the VR and also a team using Unity to create their own VR experiences. As an example, we’ve already built an Atom that you can stand in.” – Richard Wells, Deputy Principal, Orewa College.

“The interaction with VR primarily has to come from the students because of the single use nature of it.” – Richard Wells, Deputy Principal, Orewa College.

Another future goal for the college is to create a solid, VR learning model that other schools can implement across their own curriculums.

“It comes down to having solid ideas of how schools can truly utilise VR, because it’s not a scalable model to rely solely on teacher control at this point. Once it gets going, it’s really interesting stuff, and quite exciting to see what’s possible down the track. “- Richard Wells, Deputy Principal, Orewa College.

Forging new ground for student learning experiences, New Era’s partnership with Orewa College is developing VR’s relevance in the education space. With 1 in 3 students leveraging the digital program Unity, the college believes VR has the potential to be an important resource for design and architecture subjects, as well as certain STEM initiatives.

If you would like to know more about virtual reality or the ICT managed services that New Era provides across the education sector, don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our friendly representatives today.