Hopedale students explore the world from the classroom via virtual reality

A teacher at Amos Comenius Memorial School in Hopedale has been awarded for using virtual reality to make learning more interesting for his students.

'It's kind of like those View-Masters from the 1980s-1990s,' says teacher

A teacher at a Hopedale school has won an award for using virtual reality in the classroom. (Submitted)

They might not have to worry about a cellphone ban — since there's no service — but in Hopedale students are using  their phones to learn via virtual reality.

A teacher at Amos Comenius Memorial School in Labrador has been recognized for finding a new way to make learning more exciting and engaging for his students.

Curtis Oliver teaches a class where students can explore their history, traditions and culture using virtual reality.

"It's kind of like those View-Masters from the 1980s-1990s where you'd put on goggles and look at a series of slides and you'd see pictures," Oliver told CBC's Labrador Morning.

It's more learning happening than could ever happen in your traditional classroom.- Dean Coombs 

"It's a 360-degree picture of a certain scene, and you can see all around you. Students will learn many different types of things by looking at the pictures and hearing audio clips."

The school implemented the new technology in December after being approached by the school board about the idea.

The Nunatsiavut government contributed funds to acquire the technology, which was unveiled to parents and students just before Christmas with a virtual tour of the North Pole with Santa Claus.

"We've always been willing to take on new things and try new things," said principal Dean Coombs.

"If we are meeting our curriculum outcomes by doing this, then it's the way to go, it's more learning happening than could ever happen in your traditional classroom." 

Eager and excited about learning

The program is working so well in Oliver's classroom that he is training other teachers within the small coastal school so they too can implement the technology in their lesson plans.

Since using this new teaching technique, Oliver said, his students are more eager and excited about learning.

"They feel a part of the learning process. They take ownership of it," Oliver said. "They are always asking for more opportunities." 

Oliver's work with virtual reality has been recognized by the EdCan Network with an honourable mention for the 2019 Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

The award comes with a $1,000 prize that the school plans to use to reinvest in the program.

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