Southborough CE Primary School (Student Age 4-11)
Southborough CE Primary School in Tunbridge Wells, England is creating unforgettable learning experiences and enriching reading & writing with ClassVR.
We spoke to Neve Hinton, the school's Discovery Centre Coordinator, about how they've been integrating virtual reality into their curriculum.
Enriching and Augmenting Learning with Technology
Southborough CE Primary School has a dedicated Discovery Centre which acts as the technology hub for the whole school. Here staff enhance and enrich learning using engaging educational technologies.
“Technology is very much the centre of our school. We use technology to enrich and augment what we're learning in our classrooms, and it all happens in our Discovery Centre, the beating heart of our school. Our students come into the Discovery Centre once a week in a timetabled slot. They spend their time discovering and investigating, using technology such as ClassVR to enhance what they’ve been learning in our classrooms. It pushes everything else forward.”
Inspiring Imaginations in Reading & Writing
One of the core ways that Southborough CE Primary School uses virtual reality is to deliver immersive reading and writing. Using ClassVR, the students can explore and experience the settings of books they’re reading. This means students can actually step into the pages themselves, building their understanding of topics and sparking their imaginations!
“We use ClassVR every week, and the children absolutely love it. It’s been a very exciting journey. One way we use it is to enrich reading and writing. For example, we recently had classes using VR while they were doing writing activities on winter forests. It helped inspire imaginations as some of the class hadn’t ever experienced a winter forest before, but then they could in VR!”
Realistic Virtual Reality Experiences
From the first time the staff at Southborough CE Primary School explored the 360 images & videos in ClassVR through to today, they continue to be captivated by the immersion of the technology and see the value of these immersive experiences in teaching.
“I'm still amazed by the quality of it. I didn't think it would be anywhere near as good as it is, it's just incredible. When we first used ClassVR, all the teachers had an afternoon just exploring different landscapes and different places. We were just blown away with the sheer realness of the experiences, and we still are today.”
Seamless Blended Learning
Southborough CE Primary School is creating some incredible blended learning experiences with ClassVR! By integrating virtual reality with other learning methods, staff can improve classroom engagement. For example, students have recently been creating landscapes from books they’re reading inside cardboard boxes. Then, using a 360-degree camera, the class can capture these settings and explore them in ClassVR – further engaging them with the literature.
“We’ve had children build their own VR experiences based on books they're reading. They literally build the VR experience in a physical space! They get a cardboard box and decorate it in line with the book. Then we use a 360-camera to capture it, upload it to ClassVR and they share it with the other students in VR. The rest of the class can then make predictions on what they think the book is about.
“The children are really engaged with it. They really enjoyed linking the virtual to the physical. When they actually saw the physical box, having experienced it virtually, they were so excited to explore and examine it. Experiencing it first virtually was so engaging.”
Opportunities for Disadvantaged Students
Virtual reality provides accessibility for every student at Southborough CE Primary School. Although some students may not have the opportunity to travel to different countries and experience other cultures in their everyday life, with ClassVR the whole world is at their fingertips!
“When we first began using VR, we had a group of disadvantaged children reading a book called Gorilla Dawn that’s all about mining in the rainforest. We had them exploring a VR experience of the rangers in the particular rainforest area where the book is set. For children who would never have the opportunity to visit or experience that first-hand, the experience really brought the book into reality. They could actually begin to picture what the book was describing.”
How Would You Sum up ClassVR?
When asked for a final comment on ClassVR, Neve answered:
"ClassVR has offered pupils the opportunity to discover the world outside of Southborough. From experiencing the nightly fire puja in Varanasi to gaining insight into the lives of refugees in Athens, the virtual reality experiences serve as a tool for empathy and understanding.
"The children have also been able to work creatively to produce their own experiences! To bring their reading books 'to life', they’ve loved taking ownership of designing and creating immersive experiences that are inspired by scenes or themes from their class texts.
"At Southborough, we make a conscious effort to give each child multiple opportunities throughout the school year to take part in a wide variety of virtual reality experiences. The children continue to be excited and inspired by ClassVR and all it has to offer across the curriculum!"