Smarter takes students to whole new worlds
Fear not: Teachers won’t be left alone to navigate the jungles of South America. Lenovo offers educators a complete classroom solution, from the hardware to the lesson plans. Besides the headsets — all of which come equipped with WorldSense™ motion tracking with 110° field of view, a hand controller for interactivity and sanitizable head cushions -- each kit includes Lenovo 300e Chromebooks, a Ruckus R510 Access Point for fast Wi-Fi, a Google Expeditions app with more than 1,000 virtual field trips, Wild Immersion videos supported by Jane Goodall and 10 custom lesson plans.
It’s a big world out there, and technology like VR is helping to broaden the horizons of teachers and students while serving as an equalizer for children who don’t have the ability to visit the Louvre or the National Mall in real-life. Traditional education has long focused on fact retention and rote memorization. With so much information swirling through the classroom and the digital space, students are easily overwhelmed, their focus unmoored. Though students may retain facts gleaned from a textbook, they’re rarely equipped with the tools to implement the information, to apply their school lessons to real-world situations that require both knowledge and critical-thinking skills.
Virtual technology is helping ease this long standing pedagogical pain point. When students enter a virtual world, like the aforementioned Amazon rainforest, they’re not simply learning about the dietary preferences of a capybara or the aposematic coloration of a poison dart frog -- they’re observing science in-action and within context. They’re learning about the subject by virtually living it.
In a Lenovo VR Classroom, students are also gaining the technological skills that will be required of them in a contemporary workforce. Semester-long typing classes will no longer suffice. Future workers must know their way around advanced technology. Learning to operate within augmented and virtual realities is the first step for these students’ crucial, and ongoing, technical educations.
A 2013 paper by Columbia researchers asserts that certain unique skills will be required of 21st-century students, including “empathy, systems thinking, creativity, computational literacy, and abstract reasoning.” All of these attributes, the researchers concluded, “are difficult to teach,” especially with traditional methods like verbal lectures.
The researchers assert that VR holds the key to providing “more immersive, engaging experiences,” with far-reaching implications and applications. Using VR in a classroom, the study found, provides students with more engaging, authentic, empathic and creative learning experiences.
Fort Worthington Principal Monique Debi has witnessed the VR transformation firsthand.
“We’re really seeing an increase in excitement, in learning,” she says of the Lenovo VR Classroom. Students are engaging with the material so thoroughly, she says, they’ve begun to ask questions extending beyond their curriculum.
“They’re like, ‘Now I do want to do some research,” Debi says. “Now I want to see what the mountains in Fiji look like!”
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