The “Zoom” is something old-fashioned in school Optima Classical Academy of Naples, Florida, preparing to be the first to use virtual reality to teach classes to their students in the face of the situation caused by the coronavirus.
In this virtual school on the west coast of Florida, “Students receive daily live virtual reality (VR) instruction” from “a real teacher” who teaches “synchronously on a social VR platform created” for this purpose, Adam Mangana, executive director of Optima Domi, provider of the center’s curriculum, explains to Efe.
Undoubtedly, the coronavirus pandemic, its consecutive waves and variants, have put the teaching and forced schools to accelerate the search for suitable tools to continue teaching, for example with the adoption, like this center, of 3D virtual reality instead of videoconferencing over the Internet.
With avatars to Pompeii
A “metaverse” where teachers and students, explains Mangana, interact through avatars and students follow a “study plan at their own pace” with projects and tasks online and analog material (printed), which also gives them “the experience to handle pages and study a physical text ”.
In fact, it’s about “The World’s First Virtual Reality (VR) Charter School” to Open This Fall, from August 2022, with the start of the new school year, for which the registration period is already open on its website.
Optima Classical Academy students will attend Live virtual reality sessions in 30-45 minute chunks, for three hours a day, four days a week, says Mangana, with 15 years of experience in the field of educational technology.
From their homes, with a 360-degree view of the classrooms, students will be able to contemplate objects in three dimensions thanks to the special glasses (Oculus Quest) that the center provides.
Classes are taught in a virtual reality environment “Totally immersive, with a personalized avatar, so that, for example,“ they are transported to a ‘classroom’ in Pompeii, to a prehistoric water well or to the depths of the ocean ”, highlights this pioneer in the field of this applied technology to education.
The idea in this center is to complement the educational experience of VR technology, from third to eighth grade, with resources such as access to the “great books of American classical education through the virtual online platform”.
A) Yes, the school will unite tradition and innovation through virtual reality in subjects such as Algebra, Art, Mathematics, Spanish, Music Theory, Science or United States History, among others.
The priority is to interconnect the “most social and collaborative elements of the school in line with virtual reality, such as Socratic discussions,” adds Mangana, whose company is the only one that provides virtual VR instruction in the United States.
Greater student attention
Asked if there has been any type of increase in the attention of students in class through virtual reality, the expert mentioned a recent study that shows that “students learn concepts twice as fast and retain them twice as long ”through this technology.
Optima’s technology was designed, he said, based on the learning needs of today’s students: “Digital natives who yearn for immersive experiences”.
Just as importantly, the response from parents to this VR classroom experience for their children has been “overwhelmingly positive” across the country.
Ultimately, parents “see their children’s potential to excel academically as they explore new worlds from the comfort and safety of their homes,” he said.
Likewise, teachers look for a “way to keep positive and substantive relationships with their students remotely ”, away from“ operational challenges ” that entails the physical space of the schools.
A (virtual) reality without going back
For Mangana, Optima’s virtual classrooms add an “unprecedented level to her studies”, not only “captivating students” but limiting the “distractions of daily life” by keeping them “focused on learning”.
In the face of “so many distractions that have become common in classrooms or standard virtual learning environments,” Optima’s virtual reality allows maximum concentration for the student.
This step towards “e-learning” occurs when, In the United States, only 15% of parents are in favor of their children attending classes remotelyat least until the omicron threat wears off, according to a study recently published by the website MyElearningWorld.com.
And a 45% of parents believe that they should have the possibility to choose between face-to-face or remote classes for your children. The truth is that virtual reality is opening a gap and the “metaverse” has become an ideal ally to teach classes, when millions of students in the world cannot attend school or university due to the pandemic.
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