Middle School Principal's Blog

Learning In Virtual Reality

Posted on October 2, 2016

by Dr. Dwayne Priester on October 2, 2016

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As the world of technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it signals a call for K-12 educators to also hasten the rate at which their curriculum evolves to ensure that students within our care are poised to thrive in a changing world. So it makes sense that Mid-Pacific has embraced and implemented virtual reality as one of many languages of technology, an essential aptitude for today's learner. With the rapid shift from textbooks, pencils, and pens the use of interactive technologies are designed to enhance the application of knowledge.

Students in our Mid-Pacific Middle School are leveraging the power of virtual reality through newly developed courses such as Design Thinking, Studio Music, and Digital Storytelling. They are working closely with their teachers to apply the relevant knowledge that they have learned in traditional course offerings. Rather than simply reading about the Greek Coliseum and looking at 2-dimensional pictures in a textbook, middle school students are now able to wear the HTC Vive and experience the ruins in virtual reality. Science students interested in learning more about deep sea life can walk a simulated deck of a sunken vessel while observing the sights and sounds of sea life encircling them. For our students, the possibilities are limitless - these experiences of reality all done within the walls of the classroom.

Most recently, the middle school Advance Design Thinking students partnered with the organization Catalog.Earth, is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the world's vanishing landscapes with 360-degree video for free and public use. The published video will be uploaded to the Creative Commons License making it available to students world-wide to use for instructional purposes. Our students are the first and only educational partners with Catalog.Earth and pioneers in publishing 360-degree video capture.

Although virtual reality has been used as a training tool for graduate students, high tech professional organizations, and the military, it has not been widely embraced by the K-12 schools. As outlined in Mid-Pacific's Strategic Plan Aspirations 2020, technology is one of many languages necessary for our students to learn as they grown and evolve in the 21st-Century. With this in mind, embracing new technologies like virtual reality empowers our students with a "growth mindset" and positively influences their future by making the application of their knowledge relevant.