REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Proficiency Academy has added new technology to help students learn about distant times and places, without leaving their desks.
Ryan McLaughlin, Humanities Teacher at RPA, believes every teacher and every class will benefit from 30 of the virtual reality headsets. "We actually got them on Monday and I used them in my class. They're put together by Google and they're called Google Expedition, and they let teachers take their kids all over the world."
It's innovative and exciting, according to McLaughlin, and he can see myriad applications. "For me, they're amazing. I teach classes like AP Art History, where it's awesome that I can take kids to ancient ruins all over the world, take them to art museums...I was totally on board, right from the beginning."
Both the high school and the middle school campuses of Redmond Proficiency Academy have access to the headsets, and McLaughlin says that when he and his fellow educators were training with the new tech, they seemed like a modern version of 'The Magic School Bus.' "The way they're set up right now is you're in an immersive, 360 degree image, and the teacher sets, where all the students are using them, are not interactive in the sense that there's somebody talking to you in a video. I like to think of it as an extremely immersive presentation of places."
McLaughlin says the Google expedition headsets are perfect for teaching things that are difficult to grasp from books, like history or biology, and teachers in different disciplines have scheduled times to use the tech in a variety of virtual applications. "I used the headsets on Monday to teach something that can feel a little stuffy - we were talking about the American Revolution and the road that led to it, and I saw students more engaged and thinking about it and why the United States declared its independence in ways that I've never seen before. So, it can really make history come alive and can make complicated ideas captivating."
The headsets are set in an immersive mode that allows students to visit places, historical periods, and even biological systems, allowing them to learn familiar subjects in a totally new way.