Neshoba Central adds virtual reality technology

Written by Debbie Burt Myers

Virtual reality technology is coming to classrooms in the Nichoba County School District and administrators and teachers couldn’t be more excited.

Officials said the new virtual reality educational experience, with state-aligned curriculum content, has proven to enhance student engagement and retention in learning.

Neshoba Central has purchased 35 virtual reality headsets for students to use across the region from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. More will be added in the future.

Students will have access to things like virtual reality anatomy labs, Independence Hall, and a nuclear power plant. In addition, there are the periodic table, the solar system, and ancient Egypt among many other areas of hypothetical studies.

Through the Immersive Institute, backed by Lobaki Inc. At Jackson, students will have an extensive library of virtual reality experiences across all grades. The content is completely engaging and allows for interactive experiences across a wide range of curriculum content areas.

Lundy Brantley, Neshuba County’s education supervisor, said Toyota and Nissan are already using virtual reality technology to train their employees as well as the healthcare industry.

“It’s a bit like the airplane industry,” Dr. Brantley said. “Don’t put a pilot in the cockpit on the first day. They go into the simulator.”

Dana MacLean, director of work-based learning at Neshoba Central, said the VR curriculum “would be a different way of learning” for Neshoba Central students.

“They will learn digitally,” she said. “Students will have access to the curriculum from elementary school to high school.”

McLain, along with other administrators and educators, joined Lobaki’s representatives for a recent training session as they toured a power plant and virtually human anatomy lab after designing their own individual avatars.

“During our lab training, we were able to dissect bones, and piece together bones from cadavers with an instructor,” MacLean said. “It was really cool that we were all in the operating room together.”

MacLean said virtual reality allows students to learn on a different level.

“We learned through our training session that business and industry train their employees through virtual reality technology like this,” she said. “Instead of students learning to drive a forklift physically, we can teach them virtually through this technology. It remains safe and is cost effective.”

One of the main reasons the school district has purchased new technology is student participation.

Neshoba Central will introduce the new program initially through professional technology.

“We started small,” MacLean said. “They will be able to get there first and foremost.”

Two middle school teachers in a training session plan to start virtual reality technology with career exploration.

The farming teacher wants to use VR learning in his introduction to farming lessons for safety reasons.

Engineering educators and JROTC educators are also making plans to use the new technology.

As they become more familiar with it and use it more fluently, the plans aim to open VR technology to pre-K and elementary students, including students enrolled in special education.

“Going into the future, we want to get as many of these VR headsets as possible into the hands of students,” MacLean said.

Dr. Brantley was quick to note that the new VR headsets aren’t toys, although they do provide fun and exciting instructions.

“That’s what they use in business and industry and it’s becoming more and more common because it’s more cost-effective,” he said. “This is where we are and where we are going. These are the real world tools that some of the largest companies in the country are using.”

Dr. Brantley is particularly excited that students will use technology to explore careers.

“We have a lot of kids who think they want to do something after graduation because it looks good but they don’t really know what it is,” he said. “This will give them a better opportunity in a short period of time to explore jobs. They will be able to make better decisions about what they think they like or what they think they don’t like.”

Part of the curriculum takes the student to an oil rig.

“Now a student who thinks they want to work on an oil rig can see what that entails,” Dr. Brantley said. “Honestly, most people, who go there to work, see excavators for the first time. They don’t really know what to expect. This will give them a better idea of ​​what the platform really looks like.”

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