- Students at Franklin Square Union Free School District in Nassau County, New York are using virtual reality to take hands-on, deep dives into geology, science, math and social studies lessons.
- Using a tabletop VR device students can dissect and manipulate virtual objects, helping them make new connections to the material.
- School officials are also reporting increased collaboration and exchange of ideas between students.
As virtual reality tools on the market proliferate, their cost has come down considerably, making them an attractive option for schools looking to boost engagement, especially around STEM subjects. While some technology, such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headsets, are still costly and are aimed mainly at consumer adult audiences (with some educational content emerging), other tech, such as Google Cardboard's with its virtual trips,and zSpace, which is screen-based and specifically developed for educational use, is decidedly more affordable.
How VR may reshape the classroom of the future is still an open question, but experts have high hopes for it. The New Media Consortium/CoSN's annual Horizon Report for 2016 lists virtual reality as a trend to watch, with a time to adoption of just two to three years (meaning it could be in as many as 20 percent of all classrooms in that time frame.) According to the report, VR can offer students more immersive experiences than other technologies, and its dropping price point and popularity in other fields, like gaming, make it a strong fit for finding a permanent place in the classroom.