Student from Robin Sobol Transition Academy use VR in their classroom to explore different careers, including knee replacement surgery.

Questar III BOCES continues to stay innovative as technology evolves, finding new ways to incorporate technology experiences into our classrooms. One way we’ve accomplished this is by using virtual reality (VR) for career exploration.

Thanks to a partnership with Transfr VR, students from seven of our special education schools and programs have learned about several career paths from the comfort and safety of their classroom. Transfr VR’s goal is to create a new approach to workforce development. By using VR, they aim to help students explore, learn, train, and eventually become skilled workers with high-paying jobs. With education, government, and industry partners, they have access to all facets, knowing what one needs to support the other.

Two students at Robin Sobol Transition Academy perform tasks for two different career paths from the convenience of their HVCC classroom.

This year, students have explored health sciences, architecture, construction, manufacturing, and more career paths. During these lessons, students use VR to learn about these fields and work hands-on (virtually), learning and performing tasks to see if it’s something they’re interested in or would like to learn more about. The immersive experience has several benefits to our programs, including:

  • More classroom engagement
  • Heightened student attention
  • Increased memory power and knowledge retention
  • Additional career path exploration opportunities available
  • Triggered interest in previously unknown career fields

The best part of the experience was knowing that both students enjoyed using VR for career exploration lessons! Of the students surveyed, 89% graded the experience at the highest rating, and more than half gave the device and application the highest score. Overall, nearly 70% felt the career application app was a great enhancement. Students shared the following feedback in their survey:

  • “It was easy and fun to experience jobs.”
  • “It’s showing you what to do step by step.”
  • “It was easy because they let you do hands on learning without actually doing the job.”
  • “It’s fun.”
  • “It was easy to select it, play and see what it was like.”

Students can safely explore career opportunities they may not have previously considered, and can virtually get hands-on performing the tasks for these positions.

Teachers found it beneficial in the classroom too:

  • “This program is a hands-on, engaging way for our students to be exposed to different careers which they may not have considered in the past. This program can also prove very useful when completing the Level 1 assessments with our students as it exposed them to additional realistic goals for CTE and/or employment.” – Dawn McGowan, Paul Puccio School at Maple Hill
  • “VR is like a hands-on career fair! VR helps students explore various jobs that they feel nervous and apprehensive about approaching in the “real world”. This enables them to do so in a safe and controlled environment.” – Laura Bolander, Robin Sobol Transition Academy
  • “The information and VR activities held my students’ attention for the entire period, and many of them asked when they could use them again. Given transportation, time, and academic constraints, VR technology is the perfect way to introduce them to a menagerie of jobs that exist within the modern workforce.” – Kelly Brenneman, Sackett Educational Center and Robert H. Gibson Technical School Regents Program

The use of VR for career exploration was utilized at the Donald R. Kline Technical School, Paul Puccio School at Maple Hill, Rensselaer Academy, Rensselaer City, Robert H. Gibson Technical School Regents Program, Robin Sobol Transition Academy, and Sackett Educational Center this school year. We look forward to continuing to utilize the technology in the future and finding more ways to help prepare our students for their futures.

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