In recent years, the world of education has witnessed a remarkable transformation through the integration of cutting-edge technologies. One such groundbreaking innovation that holds immense promise for learning is Virtual Reality (VR).
VR is gaining significant traction in education for one simple reason: It can offer students a unique opportunity to explore and experience concepts in a way that traditional teaching methods cannot.
“I believe education outside of textbooks and the traditional classroom environment can often be the most productive, long-lasting, and meaningful,” states St. Mark Middle School History Teacher, Matthew Bonito
Virtual Reality refers to a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that users can interact with using specialized hardware, such as VR headsets or controllers. The technology immerses users in a lifelike experience, blurring the lines between the physical and virtual worlds. By creating a sense of presence, VR allows learners to feel as though they are truly present in the virtual environment.
“My students are filled with excitement whenever we use them,” shares Bonito. “The software offers virtual field trips to classic locations such as the Pyramids of Egypt, The Taj Mahal of India, The Great Wall of China, The Parthenon of Greece or the Colosseum in Rome. In addition, the students are also able to explore programs and images of cities around the world. After our class performed for our school Christmas concert, we toured a program entitled ‘Christmas Around the World’ . We learned about Christmas traditions in locations such as Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and more.”
“I’m deeply grateful to God for the opportunity to share this gift with my students,” Bonito explains. “I thank all those who helped make this happen, particularly our school principal Mrs. Melissa Warner who envisioned this project and encouraged me to apply. Bringing the social sciences to life has never been easier, or more fun!”
Bonito believes that the technology has profound implications for education.
“The results show that students more thoroughly comprehend the factual information and data about a society after ‘witnessing’ it and ‘experiencing’ it themselves through the headsets. Most importantly, the improved comprehension and performance from the students has helped to make learning both meaningful and enjoyable.”
Eighth Grader Julianne Gonzalez commented, “Using the new VR headsets in History class was amazing! I really enjoyed traveling back in time and seeing how people lived in the past. My favorite destination so far has been Ancient Egypt!”
St. Mark School Principal Melissa Warner commented, “VR has provided an immersive experience that encourages students to explore, experiment, and discover knowledge on their terms.”
Warner added, “This immersive learning isn’t just for students. After all, educators are life-long learners too. VR helps both students and educators own their educational journey by providing hands-on, innovative, engaging, and meaningful opportunities that have advanced our classroom learning environment.”
Funding for Matthew Bonito’s VR project was awarded through a grant program provided by Foundations in Education. Foundations in Education is an independent non-profit initiative created to assist the Diocese of Bridgeport’s ongoing mission to support Catholic education in Fairfield County.
St. Mark School is a 2009 Nationally Recognized Blue Ribbon School of Academic Excellence and a New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accredited school, serving students in Pre-K through Grade 8. St. Mark School will host an Open House for prospective families on Sunday, January 28, 2024 from 10 am–12 noon. For more information, visit www.stmarkschool.org.