Virtual reality learning for Montagu Bay Primary

FROM the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China to black holes, burning stars and the Milky Way.

It was an “out-of-this-world” excursion for grade two and three students at Montagu Bay Primary School recently when they took part in the Journey VR experience.

Developed by Matt Dennis, Journey VR uses the latest virtual reality technology to take entire classes on excursions to destinations around the world, in space and even through time.

Using virtual reality, students can take trips inside the human body, shrink down to the microscopic world to look at viruses or go underwater.

Each excursion is a collection of 360-degree panoramas, 3D images and videos – all annotated with interesting details, points-of-interest and questions to make them easy to integrate into everyday lessons.

“Using virtual reality offers a different approach to learning for students that is both immediate and immersive in a visual way,” Mr Dennis said.

“It provides an active rather than passive experience, handing over control of what the student is looking at to them.

“More importantly however, it compliments traditional styles of teaching and gives teachers another tool in their teaching arsenal.

“While the teacher still guides the lesson, the student gains ownership of the experience by controlling what they look at and this approach really does create interest and engagement.

“My experience has shown that it really impacts positively on those students that do not respond well to traditional methods and the feedback from teachers has been clear on this.”

Two classes at Montagu Bay Primary had the chance to test out this new way of learning when they were treated to a virtual tour of the Solar System and a visit to some of the most important natural and man-made wonders of the world.

Montagu Bay Primary School grade two teacher Kiata Ryan said Journey VR was a “different and exciting” approach to learning.

“Matt is an excellent facilitator and the students responded well to him,” she said.

“I knew that the lesson was a hit as soon as the students lifted the headsets to their eyes – there were instant responses of ‘wow’ and ‘look over there’.

“Throughout the lesson, students were asking questions and were totally engaged in the experience, with some even telling me afterwards that it was the best lesson or excursion they’ve ever had.

“Our world and the way we teach is constantly changing, so it is hard to see exactly what roll such things as virtual reality will play in the future, but I think it will certainly become another tool in our toolkit.”

Mr Dennis believes that virtual reality and other emerging technologies such as augmented reality (think Pokemon GO) would have an incredible impact on not just primary and secondary education, but on learning and training for all ages, institutions and businesses.

“In its most basic form, virtual reality allows us to take students to any location that we can imagine – locations that would otherwise be impossible to get to, such as the Moon, Antarctica or inside the human body,” he said.

“But when you realize that you aren’t just restricted to physical locations – you can time travel across history or easily visualize abstract concepts such as photosynthesis – it transforms from a complimentary teaching tool to one that can start to offer brand new ways of learning for our students.

“In the digital world that we now live, it is vitally important to offer our students immersive technologies that are fun, exciting and engaging and VR ticks all those boxes.”

For more information about Journey VR, visit journeyvr.com.au or email Matt Dennis at matt@journeyvr.com.au.

Caption: Montagu Bay Primary School students, from left, Maddie Jones, grade two, and Lacey Karoustadis, grade three.