341: Virtual Reality – Immersive Educational Campus with Remio
Jos van der Westhuizen is the CEO and co-founder at Remio.
Remio is a VR app that provides an immersive educational campus in which students can learn, collaborate, and play.
Their educational use case enables you to turn a space into a virtual learning institution. The Remio platform is built for knowledge transfer and higher education use cases. Try a weekly class in VR and you’ll understand the power of an immersive virtual classroom.
Below we have details of how Hoquiam School Uses Remio’s VR Platform to Drive Social Emotional Learning Among Students
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How Hoquiam School Uses Remio’s VR Platform to Drive Social Emotional Learning Among Students
As teachers and students have adapted to a post pandemic educational environment, the increasing importance of social emotional learning has emerged. Hoquiam School District is using Remio’s VR platform to drive social emotional learning among its students and reshape social connections impacted during the pandemic, and the positive impact is undeniable as students are eager to play and learn with each other in VR.
Hoquiam School District manages 1600 students across high school, middle school and elementary school in Washington state. Over the past year, the district has undergone major curriculum outreach to students with VR learning programs by working with Remio’s VR platform and VEDX Solutions offering ‘class packs’ that also provide training and 30 Quest 2 headsets so that educators can operate whole classrooms in VR at once.
Remio provides an all-in-one solution for remote learning environments and team collaboration in the metaverse. The platform enables students and teachers to onboard into VR in a fun, safe space where they can create their avatar, play, socialize and gain confidence engaging with their peers in a VR environment before moving into the school’s curriculum.
Chris Nitti, Digital Age Coordinator for Hoquiam School District, started the program and immediately over 100 students applied to join a small test group of 20 who participated this past summer in a Remio-based VR event. Nitti says he specifically looked for diversity, bringing in students across special education, students who are homeless, students who are transgender, football players, band geeks, the whole spectrum. The group played virtual paintball together for about 20 minutes, showing great communication, teamwork, collaboration, and engagement. Nitti then asked the students to remove their headsets and look around at their bonded group. One of the students said, “I don’t even know any of you before we put these headsets on, but now I feel like we’re real friends and I just want to get back into the world with you.” Nitti says that these social experiences in the VR environment ‘levels the playing field’ and produces equitable and inclusive experiences for students, so that constructs like appearance, class or cliques don’t matter in helping bring students socially together. Jay Schnoor, Co-founder and CEO of VEDX Solutions, “VR removes unconscious bias and perceived notions of whether someone will be ‘good’ on your virtual team.”
To get comfortable with VR environments, teachers and students engage in Remio’s VR onboarding program – they start with customizing their avatars, practice in training games and then coalesce on a custom island environment. Nitti said: “I love Remio’s onboarding system. It’s intuitive and doesn’t require a lot of guidance from me, and everyone ends up in the same game together. Once they understand the island, which the students have named ‘Grizzly Paradise’, they’re ready to go deeper into learning in VR.”
Nitti says that social emotional learning is a global issue right now because the pandemic has been so isolating for students over the past two years, which is a significant portion of their lives at this age. Kids are retracting or lacking social emotional skills, and those particularly impacted by the social isolation are students considered ACEs (adverse childhood experiences). Gaming and VR engagement with a purpose gives these students brave spaces for them to explore and address their adverse experiences. Schnoor said: “Online and distance learners don’t have the physical spaces that physical campuses do, like track fields, basketball courts, dorm rooms and quad spaces. VR brings this element of a physical space for students to socialize and engage in virtual learning.”
Nitti also runs educational simulations in VR using VEDX Solutions Class Packs, such as the combat simulator where he added modifications to the armor from realistic Greek and Roman shields and spears to teach 6th graders about ancient weapons and fighting styles. Students were hugely engaged in the material and able to more effectively understand the concepts through reenactments and even tournaments in VR.
Nitti says, “My goal is to position VR and AR as the centerpiece of our curriculum, so that data and content are taught using VR primarily, rather than as a supplement. And next year, to have a full time teacher at the high school teaching VR development skills. The biggest thing I’m excited about are the high paying job opportunities for these students post graduation in VR modeling and simulations within high risk/ high cost industries like space exploration and launching satellites. Nitti believes that education and skill development in VR is also helping students prepare for in demand jobs and future careers. He continued, “My kids are extremely ambitious and not scared of anything. They love Remio, and they want to be able to work within VR environments as well.”
The district plans to roll out the program to more students in the coming school year. Nitti is also working on a social emotional learning curriculum that he plans to pilot in VR with Remio next year, which will help even more kids build social and emotional skills in a fun and supportive environment. He says, “I want every kid who graduates from Hoquiam high school to have had some experience with social emotional learning in VR.” Nitti is confident that VR will play an important role in education for years to come as it is the future of education.
Schnoor added: “We see a bright future for Remio across school campuses. Educational VR programs will become widespread over time – it changes learning and increases the speed of learning to explain difficult concepts by two-fold because it supports both visual and auditory learners. Further, it offers distance learning with the next wrung of social emotional learning.”
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