A new angle on reality

Mount hosts VR bootcamp
June 29, 2017

Teachers and teacher candidates at the Virtual Reality in the Classroom Bootcamp, held at Mount Saint Mary College on June 27, created their own interactive photos.


About a dozen teachers and teacher candidates circled the Mount Saint Mary College campus, with phones outstretched, taking in the scenic views.

But they were far from tourists: The activity was part of the Virtual Reality in the Classroom Bootcamp, held on campus June 27.

Susan Oxnevad, director of ThingLink Education, led the bootcamp, which included Mount faculty, staff, and students, as well as educators from as far away as Delaware. Participants learned several hands-on lessons, including taking their own panoramic images and creating lesson plans based on these interactive photos.

With ThingLink’s library of 360 degree photos and the ability to create one’s own interactive pictures, the bootcamp introduced teachers many lessons using this technology. Participants received six hours of hands-on training in addition to a ThingLink account for up to 200 students.

Virtual reality, or VR, is a fast-growing industry. Often, VR requires a large headset that users must wear to interact with photos or videos, but ThingLink offers a virtual reality experience that does not require this.

Oxnevad explained that VR is often used for passive consumption – going on virtual roller coaster rides, exploring tourist destinations, and other such activities. However, the possibilities for VR in the classroom are fun and interactive, she explained, and some schools are even starting to have students create their own VR lessons.

“Students learn the most when they create,” Oxnevad said.

VR can bring lessons to life, she explained. If, for example, students were looking at VR images of a watershed issue in Africa, an educator could then have the class discuss solutions to the problem and figure out ways to improve the situation by interacting with it. This sort of learning, Oxnevad explained, elevates the VR experience by helping students develop higher order thinking skills.

“Don’t just identify” elements of the photos, Oxnevad encouraged the attendees. “Tell a story.”

Oxnevad is no stranger to the Mount – she also presented via Skype at the Educational Technology for Authentic Lifelong Learning Conference (ET4ALL) held on campus in April.