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Venture Profile: Virtual Reality, Real Feelings

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Hello! This is Dawn DuPriest and this quarter, I’m facilitating a venture project class called “Virtual Reality, Real Feelings” — about the crossroads of VR and empathy. The purpose of this venture is to explore how VR technology can immerse someone in a world so much that it changes their perception of the world. The students will select an inquiry question and create a VR mini-game or experience designed to change someone’s perspective.

As part of our school opening, we received grant money for new technology. I lobbied hard for VR equipment. I have noticed how this technology inspires curiosity, engagement, and wonder. Those emotions are powerful catalysts for learning and so I see tremendous potential for using VR as an educational tool. We secured 3 powerful gaming computers with Oculus Rift S headsets, and I also purchased 12 Oculus Quest headsets and 20 decent laptops to do software development. My class has 23 students, so we have enough computers for every kid to have one and students can share headsets with a partner.

Before the Venture started, we set up the Rift systems and set them up in our school gallery so students could play VR games after school such as Beat Saber. I believe in using the tech for fun, because again, emotions and curiosity. It also builds a sense of community and a shared sense of taking care of the equipment and fairness. Also, several students and I attended Colorado State University’s XR Symposium over a weekend, to connect with our local university and get some ideas and inspiration.

For the class, we moved all but one VR headset to a classroom. A couple of students helped me set up our charging cabinet and get the Quests on the school wifi. We got some containers of sanitizing wipes to clean the headsets off at the end of every class. We need to work hard to keep them clean and in good condition! So far, the kids are really engaged and we are all learning a lot. We look forward to showing you what we learn over the course of the Venture when we see you at our next Exhibition of Learning on December 17th!