Virtual reality is an exciting emerging technology that has a number of applications in any educational setting. The following member showcase is an innovative example of it in use in a K -12 setting from Claire Seldon:
Australia is a huge country and many of our students live in rural and remote areas where the cost of excursions even to the beach can be prohibitive. Virtual reality experiences that can be explored using a simple headset or laptop, or shown to a whole class on an Interactive Whiteboard offer students a chance to see spaces in far more detail than a photograph or video.
When the virtual reality experience is designed with layers of details and students have choice in terms of how they explore a space you are providing them with a more meaningful learning experience that increases engagement and therefore understanding.
The NSW Department of Education and The Botanic Gardens Trust are currently working together to create a virtual reality bushwalk of the endangered Cumberland Plains woodland present at their Mount Annan site. The goal of this resource and the associated learning activities is to introduce students to an ecosystem and its’ associated flora and fauna in a close up way that allows them to compare it to their local environment. The bushwalk is being created so that individual students (or groups) can move through a series of 360 panorama images and zoom into hot spots to find more information about the plants, animals, landscape and even pollution present in the environment. The bushwalk is not guided and learners can explore at their own pace, moving backwards and forwards through the spaces at will.
Explore the draft version of the VR bushwalk for yourself: http://vle-webservices.lsvle.pre.det.nsw.edu.au/staging/Ecosystem-Inquiry/