Graduate Students Use Virtual Reality to Connect With Teens

As part of her course on the use of technology for instruction, Chou was eager to offer her students a hands-on experience in the field of tech and education through a research collaboration with the library.With funding from the Center for the Common Good and help from STELAR, Chou and her students worked during the library’s Createch Lab hours in engaging teens interested in technology with virtual reality (VR) headsets.“In my course, I introduce students to emerging tools for K-12 educators,” Chou said. “I was doing research on virtual reality, and STELAR has these VR headsets for teachers to use in the classroom.”With the VR headsets from STELAR, Chou’s students guided teens through various VR experiences including traveling inside a human body; swimming with sharks; navigating a marketplace in Delhi; visiting the Great Wall of China; and discovering the Amazon.The partnership gave teens a chance to explore VR technology, and St. Thomas students an opportunity to work with a group of diverse learners. Real-life experience in the field is how you figure out strategies and ways to deal with a variety of situations, Chou said.“The current demographic of teachers is 80 percent white,” she said. “And yet, in 2014 it was the first time census data showed minority students are now the majority. I need to give my students more opportunities to work with diverse learners so they have more strategies and ways to work with them in different scenarios.”

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