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A Parent's Guide to Virtual Reality

Imagine learning about the planets in our solar system, and being able to pick them out of their orbits to visualize their size differences. Or imagine learning about Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, and being able to step inside them and explore his world. It sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?

Incredibly, it’s not fiction anymore. Due to rapidly advancing technology, these experiences are possible, and thanks to generous donors at Oakhill Day School, they are happening within our very own walls. Last school year, some of our middle school students and staff were able to explore some of the worlds available through Virtual Reality. It is safe to say that everyone who had the opportunity to step into one of the many experiences was amazed. For a few minutes, you could forget that you were in a school in Gladstone, Missouri, and could be anywhere in the world or places we could only dream of.

About a week and a half ago, Oakhill received its very own virtual reality system through a generous donation from the Miller family. Our faculty and staff are working hard to learn how to use the system and implement it in their classrooms and to make it an incredible experience for everyone in our school. We have found countless experiences in science, art, coding, history, geography, and so much more for our students to see first hand.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality is a technology that allows anyone to have “experiences” in a completely virtual world. Virtual Reality is commonly shorthanded to VR, meaning that whatever simulation, game, or experience the player is having is fully encompassing of that world.

How does it work?

There are a few types of VR available. Basic systems like Google Cardboard and Gear VR use your phone to project the world, run sound through your phone’s speakers or headphones, and they occasionally come with a single remote to help you navigate inside the world. Apps are downloaded to your phone that can run the various experiences.

High-end VR systems are rarely as portable as those running off your phone. These require computers that can run much more data at a quicker speed than your phone. Experiences are run through gaming or system-specific launchers rather than individual apps. These systems run much higher quality video, and the headset comes complete with its own sound system and controllers.

How is Oakhill using the VR system?

Just like lesson plans and curriculum, the use of the VR system will generally be determined by the teachers. Although the system has experiences preloaded on it, we are encouraging teachers to find even more that tie into their lessons to load for their students! Be assured, your students will not be playing video games on the system. It will be used for educational purposes to supplement lessons being taught in class!

How can the whole class experience it if there is only one headset?

Although only one person can be in the virtual world at a time, everyone else still gets to experience the system. By using a regular HDMI cord, any of our teachers can plug the experience into their projectors and show the whole class what is being seen.

What is the difference between AR and VR?

The main difference between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is how “in the world” you are as the person experiencing it. In VR, the player is fully immersed, easily blocking out everything in the physical world around them. Conversely, Augmented Reality uses the physical world and manipulates it, almost like a filter on your photos. In AR, the player still sees their physical world, but it may turn an AR cube into a human heart, or they can watch a volcano explode on their classroom table. Although AR can sometimes be experienced through goggles, you will more often see them through apps on tablets and phones held away from the player’s face. Ms. Parker has been using AR with her technology classes for a while through AR cubes!

Do you have more questions?

Contact the school! We'd love to answer any other questions you may have about virtual reality and how it will be implemented!

Posted by in Technology, Parent Topics, Classroom on Wednesday October, 24, 2018

1 Comment:

Can't wait to use it!

from S. Verwers on 10/24/18 at 11:28AM

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Oakhill Day School
Oakhill Day School
7019 N. Cherry Street Gladstone, MO 64118
Phone: 816.436.6228
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