21st Century teaching and learning at Robinson is rooted in meaningful, authentic student experiences. As a school that values innovation and the role technology plays in the learning process, our teachers are continually looking for ways to engage students, create opportunities for inquiry, and prompt creative and critical thought. One new and exciting way our teachers are developing this type of experiential activity is through the use of virtual and augmented reality in the classroom. Using the school’s ClassVR equipment, our third-grade teaching team recently guided students through a comparative exploration of Indigenous communities – in this case, students compared Taínos with Native American and other ancient societies. As part of their research, our students explored a Native American community using Virtual Reality. Their teacher, as their virtual reality tour guide, supported students along their exploration of a Native American living site where students found themselves entering and seeing living spaces, exploring the tools they used, and identifying how they organized their community, among other cool aspects that contributed to their inquiry into the topic.
Ms. Ilana Echevarría, 3rd Grade Teacher at Robinson, shared her excitement for this type of learning activity. As the provocation to the unit of study, “Who We Are,” incorporating VR quite literally had her students running to the books and classroom resources available to learn more as soon as they removed their headsets and stepped out of the VR world, “It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. There just isn’t a match for an immersive experience like this. It was like going on a field trip, without having to leave the classroom.” ClassVR offers Robinson teachers and students an ever-growing library of thousands of virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality content resources aligned to the curriculum, with immersive 360-degree videos and images, 3D models, explorable scenes, and even virtual tasks and assessments at our fingertips. The learning process is no longer bound by time and physical location, and our students get to see or explore firsthand the topics they are learning about in our classrooms. We are excited to see where our students might “go” next – perhaps, they’ll travel through the human circulatory system, walk along the Great Wall of China, stand at the base of a volcano as it erupts, or immerse themselves in a historical community or virtual scene based in a different part of the world (or even a digital one they help create). The implications and opportunities for learning across all levels of our school are so exciting! Incorporating VR in our classrooms at Robinson helps boost student engagement, supports multisensory learning and the retention of knowledge, and helps our students build empathy as they explore distinct cultures, world experiences, and alternative points of view. Don’t just take our word for it – see how our third graders experienced their recent VR class.
We are immensely thankful for the ongoing support of our faculty, staff, and community, and for their commitment to creating and supporting 21st-century learning experiences for our students. Our student work with ClassVR is thanks, in part, to a generous contribution by a member of our school community to our STEM Program. If you are interested in getting involved and contributing to the school or any of our programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more.