Learning Comes Out of the Screen in zSpace Virtual Reality Classroom Visit to St. Margaret’s
St. Margaret’s leaders are continuing to explore innovative new ways for students to learn. Virtual reality is one avenue being closely studied by St. Margaret’s, and a visit from the zSpace mobile virtual reality classroom this week gave students a hands-on experience right here on campus.
zSpace provides hardware and classroom activities in virtual reality tied to specific content and learning objectives. They brought their mobile virtual reality learning classroom to St. Margaret’s, complete with 11 VR stations where students wear lightweight VR glasses and use a stylus turning a two-dimensional screen into virtual, live environments right before their eyes.
“Lynn Ozonian, our director of technology and innovation, and I invited zSpace to St. Margaret’s as a part of our ongoing exploration into the use of virtual reality as a powerful educational tool, and to help gauge the potential impact to be gained from this new technology,” said Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem. “Additionally, through a PTF Grant we recently acquired two new HTC VIVE virtual reality headsets and students from Lower to Upper School have been testing those as well. This exploration is in line with our Strategic Plan that calls us to keep pace with technological advances and consider their application in deepening the learning experiences of our students.”
Through the zSpace VR learning classroom, students could grab objects in the screen and pull them out, view them in 3D from all angles and even pull them apart. Many classes visited throughout the day. Lower School science students examined the layers of the Earth. Physiology students in the Upper School studied human anatomy, including the chambers of the heart and layers of skin. AP Computer Science students built computer circuitry and microprocessors. In each case, students participated in a highly interactive, hands-on experience in a virtual environment that wouldn’t otherwise be feasible.
“The zSpace demonstration allowed students to engage content they wouldn’t otherwise would be able to, like an active volcano or a ‘live’ human heart, and with the immediate ability to try things over and over again," Mr. Dahlem said. "It was exciting to observe how our students responded to and engaged with the technology, and to see its overall impact and potential. Our faculty will have a chance to reflect on the visit and consider bringing this technology to campus on a permanent basis.”