Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

WCE Students Bring Virtual Reality to the TPYA Classroom

Friday, November 10, 2017

This fall, Watson College students brought virtual field trips and underwater discovery to the TPYA classroom. Using VR viewers and aps, the WCE students introduced a series of lessons that took the high school students sky diving, swimming with sharks and on a visit to the Eifel Tower.

WCE Technology Director and faculty member Jeff Ertzberger designed the virtual reality project for students enrolled in EDN 303, an instructional technology course that introduces pre-service teachers to the effective use of technology in the classroom.

The project began with an introduction to ways virtual reality is being used to create exploratory learning experiences in schools. Students learned about VR hardware and software and explored various websites and apps, before visiting UNCW’s CMC Makerspace where they assembled their own cardboard headsets. The students then worked in teams to design lesson plans for high school students, using smartphones and aps to display 3D content from the Discovery Channel, the National Park Service and other organizations.

On September 27, the students visited New Hanover County Schools’ TPYA classroom, located in the Education Building on campus, where they shared the lessons with students enrolled in NHCS’s Transition Program for Young Adults. Each Watson student had a role on the team. Technicians were in charge of setting up the app on a phone, testing and attaching it to each TPYA viewer. Navigators guided students on each experience, and writers asked questions to capture reactions from the students.

Twenty-five WCE pre-service teachers and five TPYA students participated in the project.

The interaction provided a benefit to everyone involved, Ertzberger said. “Virtual reality provides a heightened experience that engages students. Instead of reading about Paris or watching a YouTube video, the high school students had an opportunity to experience in 3D what it would be like to actually visit the Eifel tower. My instructional technology students learned about VR technology and then had first hand experience integrating that technology into a lesson with students.”

TPYA program coordinator Kimberly Stokes said students enjoyed the VR learning experience.

“Dr. Ertzberger’s VR activity was an absolute positive experience for our young adults at the TPYA-UNCW Site,” she said. “Our young adults are always enthusiastic about being involved in activities that include the UNCW students. They were even more excited when discussing the places and the objects they viewed when looking through the VR viewers. The excitement, smiles, and stories that the students expressed while “traveling” throughout the virtual world showed that this was a positive adventure for all. We appreciate the opportunity and consider it an honor and a privilege to be included in Dr. Ertzberger's VR Project.”

CMC coordinator Kathryn Batten and library specialist Tonia McKoy helped Ertzberger and Stokes coordinate the virtual reality project.