By: Kendall Hunt RPD with contributions from Jenienne Kriegelstein Union College - Asst Professor, North American Division of SDA and Dan Wyrick, By Design Program Consultant.
Innovation of new technologies is constantly moving forward. In the classroom, teachers have seen the shift from the use of videocassettes and DVDs to the use of online materials, such as YouTube videos, to bring concepts alive and heighten student interest. Now, the next innovation is here: VR—virtual reality. This technology takes the audiovisual experience to a whole new level. Instead of viewers seeing a flat image, the VR equipment immerses the viewer in a 360° experience that is often interactive, allowing students to experience content in ways never before possible.
Recognizing the exciting potential applications of VR in the classroom—especially in relation to science content—Kendall Hunt and the North American Division of SDA have been working with VictoryVR, one of the leaders in VR for education, to make VR science units available to teachers as an extension of the ByDesign Science program.
VictoryVR’s science units for grades 5–8 are now available, and the high school curriculum (grades 9–12) is set to debut in the spring of 2018. The ByDesign team has correlated the VR science units to appropriate chapters and lessons in the ByDesign Science program so that teachers can easily find relevant units that will increase student interest and expand their learning. Many of the VR units and elements can be used with more than one ByDesign Science chapter and/or lesson in multiple grade levels (including grades 1–4). The wide application of the VictoryVR materials makes them an invaluable resource for multi-grade classrooms.
VictoryVR units and the experiences contained within them transport students to a wide variety of places that will deepen their understanding of science: deserts, forests, beaches, even outer space! Students are given opportunities to explore locations that enhance their learning while reinforcing grade-appropriate science standards in meaningful and memorable ways. Here is assistant principal, Jenienne Kriegelstein experience when her school trialed a VR unit with their students:
“I recently had the opportunity to explore one VR unit for my grades 5–8 classroom. Having tried out VR at ISTE [International Society for Technology Education] conventions a couple times, it was not totally new, but I viewed it as a “wouldn’t it be nice” dream that seemed best tucked far back in the memory. That was until I received an email with an invitation.
With a little bit of training and exposure, the unit was packed up and brought to my classroom. My students were excited! Most are not game players, so it was a curious experience for them. They were eager for their turn and shared what they experienced. Did you see this? What did you think of that? I watched, wondering if it was a cool toy that would get old, then dreaming of ways to make just one unit a valuable tool for my classroom if the opportunity ever arose.
When our one-week trial period came to an end, I knew I would value any time I might ever get to use VR with ByDesign. The informative presentations are planned around ByDesign’s unit topics; they are varied in format, interesting, and challenging, and they share experiences I will never be able to provide for my class. The students were quickly acclimating to this new instructional format; let’s be honest, at first, it was so intriguing—and they were so busy exploring, literally, in a 360-degree environment—that they missed some of the content. That’s when the idea of student pairs that was suggested in training made full sense. A second headset allows another student, a note taker, to listen to and see the presentation in the 2D format, giving pairs an opportunity to focus once on the content and then to immerse themselves in the experience.”
Each of the units currently available from VictoryVR generates enthusiasm for learning and uses innovative VR technology to expose students to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers and applications. This STEM infusion also allows teachers and parents to determine students’ strengths and interests in these areas and assists students in long-term decision making related to coursework and future career opportunities. In addition, VR units support the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) standards by presenting digital-age learning experiences to facilitate and improve learning, communication and collaboration, creativity and innovation, information, and technology literacy.
VictoryVR stimulates students’ lifelong learning, as well as their curiosity for what’s possible in their world and what impact they may have on it. By experiencing these VR environments, students are actively engaged, captivated, and excited to learn. Imagining their futures by experiencing the world outside of their local communities is only a headset away.
Relying on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as a model, VictoryVR has created original, engaging, and informative content for each of the science units. There are currently 24 middle school units available, with five VR experiences per unit and three assessments per unit. Each unit contains the following elements:
Virtual Field Trips (1–2)
· Interactive Game/Learning Activity
· Instructional Stories: VR Comic Book, Theater Experience, or VR Journey
· Teacher Demo/Experiment
· Assessments (connected to the cloud for recordkeeping)
When you experience using By Design Science and virtual reality in your classroom, we are sure that you will come to realize the exciting potential that it can bring to your classroom!