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11 September 2017

Virtual reality making schools of the future


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Virtual reality making schools of the future

Image of boy in classroom using virtual reality

Technology has become an integral part of our world. From social media to robotics and from basic word processing to virtual reality, technology is playing an increasingly important role in just about every aspect of our lives.

Education is no exception. While traditional learning methods are just as relevant today as ever, the benefits of technology in the classroom are well documented.

Teachers can use technology to complement traditional approaches to education and enhance students’ classroom experiences.

Working with technology can allow students to gain valuable practice in solving complex problems. It can help make lessons more adaptable to individual needs, and open different avenues through which students can learn. Perhaps best of all, technology can make learning more fun.

Educators are well aware of the need to arm students with the ability to understand and apply technology to pursue further education, enter the workforce and potentially become the next generation of leaders.

In a competitive environment, schools offering quality programs that successfully prepare students for a high-tech future will be the ones to attract the most applications. Those that lag behind may face dwindling enrolments.

One challenge for schools is to ensure the technology introduced into classrooms is the right fit for the educational content, the teachers, and importantly, the students. Technology should support learning outcomes without acting as a distraction, a very fine line to walk given how much technology is available.

Some government programs specifically support the introduction of technology into schools. For example, the Victorian state government announced in June that it would provide a total of $1.6 million in grants so that 150 schools could get two robots each, and access technologies such as 3D printers and virtual reality goggles.

On top of this, the NSW Government is investing $46 million to upgrade wireless connectivity to more than 900 regional and remote schools in NSW.

But these grants are not available to all, and new funding measures introduced under the Gonski 2.0 model may force some non-government schools to tighten their belts.

To pay for technology, schools could draw on capital reserves (if available). They could borrow from a traditional lender or seek an alternative capital solution.

Acquiring equipment using alternative finance such as a lease or rental agreement, rather than buying it outright, may lower upfront costs and offer greater flexibility to implement new technologies that need to be upgraded frequently.

Parents and students increasingly expect schools to provide up-to-date resources that support an interactive learning environment and deliver the best educational outcomes for each child. Schools that want to position themselves for the future will have to come up with innovative ways to integrate technology into their programs within the constraints of their budgets.

Don’t let tight budget constraints deprive your school, and your students, of the resources they need.

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