Virtual reality is opening classrooms to the world, and teachers are becoming global guides as they teach children world geography.
Recently, 24 social studies teachers from Allegheny County attended a training event at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in Homestead. They were introduced to virtual reality tools, such as Google Cardboard and the high end HTC Vive.
According to Tyler Samstag, director of instructional innovation, it's only the beginning of helping teachers plan lessons around virtual reality activities, ensuring educational value and critical thinking.
Virtual reality tools can present material in new ways, engaging students in visual learning experiences. But there are also ways that the tools support students with special needs. Virtual reality is multisensory, immersive, and can engage students on the autism spectrum, allowing them a safe space to explore and experiment.
The cost of the technology is likely the biggest hurdle for districts. Google Cardboard costs about $8-15 each headset, but there must be smartphones to operate videos. High end devices cost much more, and must be used with certain computers.