Using ClassVR to Drive Progress at St Wilfrid's Academy
“Ever since the emergence of virtual reality and accessibility of it through smartphones, I’ve been eager to use it in a classroom situation. What ClassVR allows us to do is take students into another environment anywhere in the world. What’s great about it is that they can experience that environment in full 360, looking all around them so that they can imagine themselves actually being there. This has a huge impact on their retention of information and their learning experience because they are having a real experience while they’ve got the headsets on.”
Lead Teacher for New Technologies (UK)
Serving the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen and parts of Pennine Lancashire, St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy places a strong emphasis on engagement for all students. The staff are committed to embracing modern technology to maximise learning, making them an ideal Pioneer school for ClassVR.
Nathan Ashman, St Wilfrid’s Lead Teacher for New Technologies, is always on the lookout for how modern technology can enhance and enrich students’ learning experience.
Immersive learning is really moving forward in schools. The students aren’t just isolated in their own immersive world, they’re putting the headsets on then taking them off and talking to each other about their experiences naturally because they are keen to share this with people around them.
ClassVR provides a whole virtual reality solution which is both accessible and easy to use. It is also flexible in that, as a teacher, you can lead your students through a particular topic or you can allow students to navigate themselves, dipping in and out of experiences as they choose. It’s good to give the students a little bit of autonomy in what they do but at the same time as a teacher it’s nice to know that you still have that control.
TEACHER MANAGEMENT PORTAL & ADDING PERSONALISED CONTENT
The portal is very easy to use; you can just drag and drop activities you want to use and there is an amazing amount of content on there to choose from. We want to make our curriculum specific to our students so being able to put our own content on there really makes it more purposeful and relevant.
We’ve been fortunate enough to get a 360 camera so taking images wherever we are is relatively straight forward. Once we have those images, we just upload them to the portal where they are ready to use. If, for example, we were to go to place of worship and take some images there we can then take that back to the classroom for students to see in all year groups rather than just those that went on the trip.
Gwen Rees, Assistant Principal at St Wilfrid’s, was sceptical at first about using ClassVR with her students but now sees it as an invaluable resource in the classroom.
“When Nathan came to me to ask about using ClassVR headsets with my students, my initial reaction was unease and worry. The idea of having these boys in a space with technology was quite daunting, I’m a bit of a technophobe myself and I was concerned about behavioural issues that could arise. It turned out that I didn’t need to worry. The boys were so engaged and excited about using this technology that there were no issues with behaviour.”
Assistant Principal (UK)
From the second you open the box and show students the headsets, it creates an amazing buzz around the classroom; they’re excited to get involved. I’ve used ClassVR with my Year 8 boys, a lower-attaining Literacy group, when introducing them to war poetry. I knew that this was going to be a very daunting task; the vocabulary in the text was going to be extremely challenging for them.
When I placed those boys within the trenches in that virtual reality space, they were able to answer a lot of their questions themselves, they were making connections and they could really understand what it would be like to be in those trenches. Then, when I introduced the poetry, the students had a level of empathy and understanding that they wouldn’t have had without that experience. Their writing about those poems clearly demonstrated the progress that they’d made.
DESIGNED FOR THE CLASSROOM
ClassVR is different because the package is complete, there’s no need for mobile phones which means that the students can pick it out the box and use it straight away. If you’re at all unsure about using this technology in the classroom my advice would be have a go yourself. Put on the headset and see how this would captivate your students.