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How Virtual Reality can be used to Support Children with Special Educational Needs

Charlton Park Academy is a Special Academy for students with complex, low incidence special educational needs. Based in Greenwich, London, Charlton Park goes above and beyond to transform the lives of its students, focusing on ensuring that they become happy and fulfilled both as adults and citizens and who are able to pursue their interests and dreams.

Although Charlton Park have not had the technology for long, they have already used it in a number of different ways and just as importantly, are still full of ideas about how they can implement it effectively in their classrooms to maximise student engagement and enjoyment:

A New Experience

We always thought that giving students the opportunity to be immersed in a place that they had never experienced could be a powerful tool, however there is a world of difference between a nice idea and the reality of seeing Caris from Charlton Park Academy put on a headset and find herself swimming with turtles, sharks and manta rays. There are no words to describe the look on her face and having that ability to give students, who would find a lot of trips limited by mobility issues or other difficulties, the chance to see the pyramids, fly in the clouds or even travel to Mars.

Tailored Content

Charlton Park Academy have also purchased a 360-degree camera to allow them to capture their own images and videos. They are yet to truly integrate this function into teaching and learning as it is still early days; however, they are extremely keen to get students involved in creating their own 360 content to view on the headsets as well as the possibilities for taking them on school trips so that they can relive those experiences whenever they choose.

Maintain Interaction

One of the features that Charlton Park Academy loved was the ability to not only control the content from an easy-to-use portal, but the fact that you can view a live feed of what each headset is looking at. While Caris was looking inside an Egyptian tomb, we were able to describe what she was seeing to her and ask specific questions about her experience and what she chose to focus on. This affords far more opportunities for personalised learning and prevents the students from feeling too distant while they’re wearing a headset.

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