School Name: FH Collins School
School District: Yukon Education
Inquiry Team Members:Michel Emery: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology
Focus Addressed: Experiential learning, Flexible learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, STEM / STEAM
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Can emerging technologies such as VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and 360 photography succeed in improving student engagement, foster deeper learning, and broaden students’ perspectives of the world? Can they be effectively used in Yukon classrooms (technical & logistics) ?
Scanning: A recent school survey indicated that students engagement levels were low. Students felt a disconnect between traditional education approaches and their technology rich reality. We can leverage this “easy to use technology” to bridge this gap and inspire students in their learning.
Focus: While giving various sessions to classes using diverse technology applications, I noticed that VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) and 360 photography were particularly successful in raising the level of engagement and wonder in students. Perhaps these emerging tools could be successful in helping facilitate the shift towards the new curriculum and provide innovative ways of teaching and learning.
Hunch: Students as VR Explorers – Infusing a VR activity in a specific curriculum area or lesson will give student more control over their learning, generate new excitement (since VR helps users feel as if they were immersed in a new environment), encourage the effective use of student devices/phones as learning tools, and give students dynamic learning experiences that should come with the advent of a new curriculum.
Students as Contributors – Using a 360 camera and simple applications, students will have access to powerful 21st century tools that will enable them to share their culture, promote their communities, or advocate for a cause they hold dear.
Technology Challenges – Downloading expeditions on devices and using independent routers should overcome the network issues and increase the access or rich VR experiences for students in isolated communities and in urban areas.
New Professional Learning: 360 Photography – I learned to use a Gear360 camera and the application “Storyspheres”. I also learned to create a simple website using “Googe Sites” to share with staff/families/students the images and the projects we created.
Technology – I connected with an organization called “Computers for Schools” and I was able to obtain recycled Apple routers. I learned to create Wifi networks. These simple networks are just a way to enable teachers and students to connect to VR Expeditions without needing the internet (which eliminates connectivity issues we frequently encounter). I prepared 10 of these networks and distributed them to interested teacher in various schools.
Cardboard – I tested a way to use the technology which we have in Yukon Schools (iPads – or student devices) and simple cardboard goggles to successfully embark small and large group on diverse VR expeditions.
Curriculum – I explored and learned about various expeditions and imbedded them into current courses offered at my school. I accompanied classes, lead diverse cross-curricular expeditions and taught teachers how to use the technology and application.
Professional Networks – Sharing successful practice creates momentum and helps the wider education community. Last year, I wanted to demonstrate how easy and feasible it is using VR – AR and 360 Technology in the classroom. I presented my approach and findings at the BC ERAC IT4K12 conference, Prime Minister Awards Symposium, Yukon College Teacher Education Program, and at the YTA Conference. I developed and posted a VR guide on my website. https://sites.google.com/view/fhc/vr-coding for all teachers to use. All of this generated interest in Yukon Teachers and facilitated the distribution of the 1350 SESQUI cardboard googles in all Yukon schools. In July of 2019, I have been invited to present at the Geo-Technology Institute for the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
Taking Action: Our FH team applied for the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge and were selected as finalists. We received 360 cameras, Galaxy S8 phones, tablets and VR gear. With this equipment, students created a VR tour of the Gadzoosdaa residence and the FH Tech Wing. https://sites.google.com/view/gadzoosdaa/home These tours are a valuable resource used by our counsellors when their visit communities and present the residence and our programs to prospective students. This resource was also showcased to FNPP at Yukon Education and other schools. Students wanted to create a product that could be used by families to prepare for their journey away from their communities. Here is our application video created by students.
I gave several VR expeditions during this school year. All of these were connected to classroom learning and curriculum. I collaborated with teachers and added a VR experience where they saw fit. For example, in Geography 11 we explored volcanoes using an AR experience, in Spanish 11 we went to Machu Pichu using VR and explored the Mayan culture, in Social Studies 8 we learned about Ancient Rome using VR, in Applied Sciences 10 we travelled to the international Space Station, in Social Studies 11 we went to Vimy Ridge and did a Trench Warfare expedition, we explored Canada’s Senate in a Political Sciences class, …
Checking: Using the data gathered from the student forms was really helpful. It confirmed that VR and AR expeditions were successful in raising student’s engagement, understanding, inspiration, and immersion in a topic area. https://forms.gle/MjXTRkNoVkJb8SkT7
84 students completed the survey. 95% percent of students said they enjoyed their classroom experience with VR, 60 % of students identified VR as an inspirational learning tool out of a list of diverse resources, 93% indicated that they wanted to experience VR Expeditions in their other courses, 89% felt they were actually immersed in the learning environment.
VR provides the opportunity to use their devices if they wish and connects with their technology rich reality.
Some student comments about their experiences.
It was good. Felt a little sick.
It was more hands on being able to experience the world.
I liked it because the pictures seemed realistic.
I liked how I was able to learn and use my phone.
It was really cool to enter a new environment without actually being there.
It was interesting to mess with.
It was really cool but it made me dizzy.
I like it because it’s not boring.
We did Rome it was spectacular I experienced history.
I really liked all the different scenarios and the small details.
Reflections/Advice: Expeditions Collection
Explore the BC curriculum and create a list of Google Expeditions that could complement and augment the learning experience.This would allow teachers to easily find expeditions in their subject area and consider if they would be a good fit for their courses.
I wish to continue building 360 expeditions with students. We are in the process of creating multilingual VR tours of our school facilities with our students (Tagalog, French, Indigenous Languages). We also created a partnership with Parks Canada. We will be creating a tour of the SS Klondike in the future. This makes learning real and authentic. It not only builds 21st century competencies in students, but generates products that are forward-looking and that benefit our community.