Emmanuel College is a co-educational, multi-denominational school located at Carrara on the Gold Coast.The College offers schooling from Prep through to Year 12 and has approximately 1600 students on campus.
The school prides itself in developing students that are extensively engaged in their personal growth and the pursuit of excellence. Technology plays a large role in this, “but only if it serves the learning experience”, says Mark Savery, Head of e-Learning P-12 & STEM Coordinator. “It is important to consider what the technology is giving the students, that they didn’t have without it. There should be a clear contrast. VR gives depth and a richness to learning experiences, so we were keen for our student to engage with the technology”.
The school researched several VR solutions and ClassVR stood out as the best fit for the school’s current needs. “ClassVR is a great solution; we didn’t need to create a dedicated VR space to accommodate the technology nor did we need a high-performance machine. It is easily transportable from class to class” Mark explains.
“Affordability was also a factor in our decision making. While we are a well-resourced school, we always aim to use our finances in a way that generates the best value and outcomes in the classroom. We could buy a set of 8 ClassVR headsets and the Teacher Portal for the same price as one VR headset from some of the other brands. The others didn’t have the built in AR features and were not as simple to use. Any staff member, or student, can drive ClassVR and that means there is no additional pressure on our IT support resources. Its useability across the school means that students of all ages can benefit from this solution.”
Classroom controls were another important factor. “Being able to drive what our students see and when they see it means the teacher is always in control.” On top of these features, students can also create content and upload it to the headsets. “That was the game-changer. We wanted to extend the student experience beyond just viewing. Using applications such as Paint 3D, students create their own content and upload it with ease.”
What support and resources are available?
ClassVR comes with a library of lesson plans and worksheets that can aid a lesson. On top of the initial training, there is also an option to complete the ClassVR Online PD. “This is a great resource and adds exceptional value, especially as not all staff were available for the training. The course is very straight forward and easy to work through. I have encouraged our teachers to complete this PD prior to using the product as they get a great overview of all the available features.”
How has ClassVR changed the dynamic in the classroom?
“It’s easy to see that during a ClassVR lesson there is a high level of engagement and excitement. Students have a different depth of knowledge about what they have been studying – a deeper understanding. For example, we have been exploring solar systems with Year 3 students. The VR experience allows students to stand on the sun and look around the solar system. They gain an understanding of the size of each planet in relation to another and how they span the solar system. Our Year 2 students have been studying people, places and how they connect. They have been comparing markets in Thailand with markets in Jordan and Turkey. They can immerse themselves in the cultural atmosphere, the buildings and the merchandise, and then discuss the similarities and the differences by recalling the experiences.
As part of a wider project, some of our older students create content using Microsoft Paint 3D and export it to ClassVR to view and interact with it. They have also exported their Minecraft structures and created mixed-reality cubes to view them. Students can create any 3D object and upload it into the headset to be able to view it. Being able to view and interact with their own creation allows the students to examine their work and has given the lessons a new dimension.
What benefits have you observed from the introduction of ClassVR?
The school has seen a number of benefits from using ClassVR, “We have an early-years student who has been showing traits similar to selective mutism. He has struggled with his speech and overall confidence in the classroom and rarely speaks. His teacher found the student had difficulties using language to discuss or express his ideas or explain what he was writing about.”
As part of a lesson, his teacher used ClassVR to introduce a new topic. “The ease and breadth of language used by the student during the lesson surprised his teacher. He was truly ‘experiencing’ something new and was excited to talk about it, and the teacher was amazed how articulate and expressive he was discussing his experience. ClassVR is a great tool being used as a writing stimulus for him.”
Using a 360° camera, Emmanuel College created their own content and used ClassVR to help communicate the school culture for their Open Day. “We typically run Open Days on a Saturday, and of course, there are no classes for visitors to observe. Using ClassVR, prospective parents can see a Year 5 STEM class in action, experience a concert in our theatre, and watch a swimming lesson in the pool. This was of huge interest to the prospective parents as it gave them a taste of what our active school community is truly like and is what sets Emmanuel College apart from other schools.”