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Banff Academy takes learning to virtual world

By Kyle Ritchie

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Banff Academy has added an extra dimension to its learning with the introduction of virtual reality (VR).

Pupils are able to use the technology to enhance their learning experiences and increase engagement.

The school made the leap to a new type of digital learning by purchasing virtual reality headsets after seeing them at the Scottish Learning Festival.

The resource has become an integral part of the school's digital learning hub, which is a bookable facility within the school.

The school purchased the headsets from a company called ClassVR by Avantis; a simple to use virtual reality user interface made for education.

The headsets were part funded through a donation from Alan Meikle, managing director of Hamlyns of Scotland, who was keen to invest in the local school.

ClassVR has allowed teachers to prepare exciting lessons in a format that will allow pupils to access content using a VR headset connected through Wi-Fi.

Teachers can select content to be streamed to these devices directly from the secure ClassVR portal where there are hundreds of pre-made experiences, or they can create their own content for lessons.

By using just their hands and simple head movements pupils can navigate around the icon, select and launch activities and experience 360-degree images and videos and augmented reality.

Head teacher Alan Horberry said: "Students engage much more when they experience learning in an immersive environment.

"To feel, to see and to experience learning in real life, real time contexts stimulates interest, increases learning and excites pupils.

"Pupils learn more, behave better and see a relevance of their learning.

"This would be practically impossible to facilitate for large and even small groups of pupils. However with VR headsets we can do exactly that.”

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