Virtual reality headsets are entering South African classrooms and are being used to deliver immersive learning that supplements the curriculum.
Two schools in the north of Johannesburg, Reddam House Helderfontein and Reddam House Waterfall, are using VR headsets to give students immersive educational experiences.
“Learning should be engaging and immersive, enabling deeper and more effective learning. When VR is combined with the metaverse, students gain access to activities that were previously beyond their reach,” said Ravi Nadasen, CEO of Inspired Schools Africa, which owns the Reddam schools.
VR allows students to experience environments that are otherwise inaccessible to them – for example, the pyramids in Egypt, the Pantheon in Rome or even the inside of a volcano.
Graham Bennets, executive head of Reddam House Helderfontein, told TechCentral that the technology was piloted by Inspired Group schools in Portugal and Spain.
The initiating schools “sorted out the snags” in both the software and how to integrate VR with classroom learning. Bennet aims to add a South African flavour to the VR experiences currently available in the internationally shared Inspired Schools VR library.
“We are currently using apps that already exist, but soon we will learn how to set up our own environments. So, we have Anne Frank’s museum available, and that’s cool. But I want to do Isandlwana (an historic battle site in KwaZulu-Natal), fly over that mountain and talk about that history,” he said.
The two South African schools are in a collaborative two-year pilot phase. During this time, educators will get training and experience on integrating the technology into their lessons. Meanwhile, their international counterparts will transfer skills around VR lesson planning to both teachers and IT staff, helping them create original, localised VR experiences for their students.
Reddam students use Meta Platforms’ Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets to interact with their virtual learning environments. The Quest 2 has hand controllers that are used for navigation, but students can also use their hands for finer detail work like working a scalpel in a biology experiment that involves dissection.
“VR is an add-on to our teaching rather than the teaching itself, so we are just adding that extra dimension to it. We use the technology in short, sharp doses to keep it safe for the students, and they can access recordings of the lessons on computer later on if they want to refresh their learning”, said Bennetts. — (c) 2023 NewsCentral Media