A whole new virtual world has just opened up at Bowraville Central School (BCS) after they received eight Virtual Reality (VR) headsets for students thanks to a £1200 Avantis World Global Teacher Scholarship.
Spearheaded by school librarian Helen Rushton, the new VR initiative has brought a whole new level of learning to all BCS students.
"Imagine swimming with sharks, not for the faint-hearted, but with our new VR headsets, it can be experienced first hand minus the risk of being harmed," Mrs Rushton said.
"This is just one of the endless experiences the headsets can generate. Not even COVID can stop virtual visits to another country.
"Learning has reached a new level, engaging students in a way that increases their curiosity and thirst for ever-increasing knowledge in the ultimate safety of virtual reality.
"The VR headsets are filling in educational gaps and adding to the emotional experiences that are otherwise unavailable to our students."
So far, the response from students has been highly positive, with everyone from Kindergarten to Year 12 enjoying the new technology.
"It was like we were really swimming," Skylah from Kindergarten said when she was asked what it was like after her virtual visit to a rock pool.
"Teachers won't use these; they are too much fun," Zac from Year 9 said.
While dinosaur obsessed Lyrik was overwhelmed when he could hold a baby dinosaur in his hand.
Mrs Rushton says her success with the scholarship was a longshot, especially for a teacher from regional NSW, but the librarian saw the potential benefits in the technology and decided to push forward after a little encouragement.
"To apply for the Avantis World Global Teacher Scholarship was a considerable thought process, I mean an old-world teacher from Bowraville, applying for a global scholarship, I was about to dive into the new world technology of VR," she said.
"We'd only had the Class VR Kit for a short time before we went into learning at home, but I could see the possibilities and creativity that virtual reality could bring to our students, especially with broadening their educational experiences.
"I love storytelling; I value my ability to be able to bring new adventures and experiences to our children.
"This was one way that I could not only bring engagement with students, but also involve them in constructing their own stories, connecting and sharing past and present to our global world."
Mrs Rushton joins 100 other Global Avantis World Ambassadors and will start developing programs and mentoring others in virtual reality and Class VR technology.
"My first Global introductory meeting was held at 8pm, I joined in with our leader, Ian, and 12 other teachers from all over the world, including America, South Africa, England, Ireland, Australia and Sweden," Mrs Rushton said.
"Talking to these educators regarding technological ideas of where to next has been extraordinary.
"To hear a teacher from Sussex in England request resources to teach the Australian novel Rabbit-Proof Fence was pretty amazing.
"Staff here at BCS will be able to assist her and build an ongoing global relationship."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.