48. Sparking Student Engagement with Immersive VR Experiences 

District:  No. 5. (Southeast Kootenay)

This project explores the “barriers and benefits” of using Virtual Reality (VR) in an educational environment. With the involvement of 5 local communities (Cranbrook, Jaffray, Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford), all schools in this district will participate in developing a “student centered, inquiry-based approach” in the use of VR in exploring student engagement in the emerging contexts of the BC curriculum.

Initial artifacts and project documentation have been shared below!

This photo was taken in a grade 1 class in Cranbrook exploring the design process of building a robot.  They are using an app called “Within”: 

Two young boys looking into an iPad screen.
Two students using an iPad to explore a VR experience about robots.  

Both students have shown a reluctance and difficulty participating in regular classroom activities. Both were deeply engaged and were even able to produce and respond to activities after the VR experiences. Our team has started observing student behavior and experience through a different lens and attempting to qualify student engagement in relation to AR/VR beyond the easily observable signs such as excitement. 

Our project is focused on VR, but open to AR – which we are quickly seeing might be the way that larger applications or whole class implementation will be going due to the constraints of VR. Our next step is to purchase 2 VR headsets to see how this affects student attention and engagement. 

Here is the AR/VE project’s 2018-2019 final report (opens in new window).

Here is this project’s 2020 Rural Schools Symposium presentation (.pdf opens in new window)