Focused. Comfortable. Happy. Easier. All words used by Questar III BOCES students when asked to comment on their experience using a virtual reality (VR) device in a recent lesson.
Students from Sackett Educational Center, Rensselaer City High School and Robin Sobol Transition Academy had the opportunity to participate in a pilot lesson utilizing virtual reality environments from Foretell Reality. The practice of soft skills including mock interviews, employer expectations and customer service are part of the normal curriculum to prepare students for what’s to come following their graduation. Using virtual reality technology in the classroom has provided the opportunity to make practicing these life skills less intimidating, highly simulative, and more exciting.
Foretell Reality is a virtual reality platform that enables authentic human interactions in immersive environments designed to facilitate communications, learning, and collaboration. And those environments, along with special features like 360 media sharing and 3D recording, are what makes Foretell Reality stand out from others.
Foretell Reality provides a library of spaces designed for focused and authentic communications, efficient learning, productivity, and relaxation. In the past three months, Questar III BOCES students participated in a variety of board room situations, some in group settings and some in one on-one, like a traditional interview might be. You might ask, why not use video conferencing? And while that can be yet another tool we use, virtual reality allows for a shared space between participants and a more life-like experience. With 3D simulations, users have a better sense of social and environmental presence and can even share objects with each other. Additionally, the use of a headset means that collaborators are more focused and less prone to distractions – like their phone, visual or auditory background noise, and even poor video quality.
“There are some real benefits to using virtual reality with our students,” said Jon Levine, Work Readiness Coordinator/Transition Coordinator for Questar III BOCES Special Education. “In the lessons we applied virtual reality to, students in general liked how interactive it was. It alleviated anxiety and put them in virtual environments that enabled them to practice real life situations. Not only do we see increased engagement and focused attention from our students, but it also provides them with more knowledge retention and boosted creativity.”
Following the pilot lesson, students were surveyed on their experience, with 72% believing that the use of virtual reality in the classroom has a high benefit to their education. Specific to our lesson, 61% of students highly agree that the use of VR made mock interviews easier, and 72% gave the highest score for wanting to see more VR and Foretell Reality applications in future lessons.
But students aren’t the only ones who enjoyed virtual reality in the classroom… one teacher acknowledged the added engagement from students while using realistic environments, and how it can be a steppingstone before moving to in-person practices. Another teacher enjoyed the prospect of entering different businesses and occupations with their students, while making them feel present in their surroundings.
As technology evolves, so do our classrooms. Utilizing virtual reality from Foretell Reality is just one example of our innovation to engage students in the classroom.