Led by STEM teacher David Kaser, the technology is being uniquely used for educational experiences instead of gaming — science, history, astronomy, and art.
“VR works great for abstract concepts. Whether it is huge scale things like outer space that are tough to visualize and tough to get to, or whether it’s really small, on the atomic level or the biology level,” Kaser explained.
He had the idea for a virtual reality classroom a year and a half ago, had to create an entirely new curriculum to get it going.
Through grants from the Arconic Foundation, the Barberton Community Foundation, and PPG Industries, Kaser was able to purchase 15 Oculus Rift VR headsets — each one runs close to $2,000.
He teaches his class of 19 students, and then those students, in turn, teach other classes.
“My students are peer-to-peer teachers, they’re technology experts,” Kaser explained. “Kids are excited. It gets them out of a desk, and out of a regular classroom. It is immersive, it’s 3D, it’s a lot like the technology they use when they go home at night.”
For students like sophomore Gabrielle Wintrow, it’s opened up an entirely new frontier in education.
“We’re moving forward with technology instead of just staying with our Chromebook’s and phones,” she said. “Sometimes we see it as a game, but in reality, we really learn a lot.”
On the day News 5 visited, students were using the VR headsets to explore the human body, going through bloodstreams and veins.
Several other districts in Northeast Ohio, including Akron and Cleveland, are also starting to incorporate VR technology into their classrooms.