Kaden Popp is beyond excited to be able to use a virtual reality (VR) headset in his Clinton, Ontario. Classroom.
“Cool is not a good enough word,” said the Grade 11 student from Central Huron High School (CHSS).
For most of their second semester, CHSS Communications and Technology students were able to participate in a unique pilot project where they learned through virtual reality.
“It’s honestly the future,” said their teacher, Jacqui Morley. “Some colleges and universities are already integrating it into different programs, so to be the first high school in all of Ontario to have this opportunity, we are very grateful,” she continued.
Dan Hawes, who runs Toon Rush, a Waterloo-based animation and VR game software developer, loaned the class the VR headsets, guiding them through virtual learning sessions focused on animation, games and filmmaking.
Dan Hawes, president/producer of Toon Rush, participating in virtual reality learning sessions with students at Central Huron Secondary School in Clinton on May 24, 2022. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)“Twenty years ago, what these kids are going through would have been a half-million-dollar experiment in a university lab. Today they are available for $400. It’s mind-blowing,” said Hawes, who also teaches at Carleton University.
He uses VR learning for his college students and wanted to see if it could enrich the learning experience for high school students as well.
“It was kind of like an alternative to an online Zoom class, but it was a lot more immersive, so less boring,” said Grade 11 student Zack Caldwell.
“Since we are the only school in Ontario to have this opportunity, we are very lucky. It’s amazing,” Popp said.
Loaner VR headsets are back with Hawes now. But he hopes school boards will see this pilot project as potential proof that virtual reality learning isn’t that far off.