WILLISTON, S.C. (WJBF)- Williston-Elko High School welcomed students back Monday morning.
But in just a few weeks, students will be able to use virtual reality headsets in the classroom for the first time.
The school is one out of 30 across the Palmetto state to receive the headsets from the online learning company, VictoryXR.
It’s making Principal Anthony Flowers excited for students to get an educational experience that will be “out of this world”.
“It’s a chance for us to showcase what we can do at a small school, and give our students an opportunity to experience something they haven’t experienced before,” said Flowers.
The company has sent 20 headsets to Williston-Elko, which will be used to tutor students in reading, math, and science.
According to the principal, a group of 20 students will be selected a couple times per week to tutor for those three subject areas. They will put the headsets on, and will have a live tutor that will cover issues that are aligned with state standards.
He says for science classes, the technology can be used for dissections, and for the general classes they will have field trips the students can go on–whether throughout history, or current places.
Flowers says students will be able to use them in the classrooms, and it doesn’t cater to one specific group of students.
There will be structured tutoring for those students who struggle with any of the subjects, but they can also be requested by teachers for lesson plans.
But at the end of the day, everyone should be able to have their turn.
“We have a period which will be a 30 minute enrichment period for us, and during that period we can rotate around the classrooms and give everybody an opportunity with that,” said Flowers.
In addition, teachers will moderate and lead the students in the virtual learning experience.
Long time educator Bernard Walters says he believes the new technology will do wonders for his students.
“I hope that test scores will go up. I hope the children will take away from it that all subjects are doable virtually, and that they won’t be scared of mathematics–they won’t be afraid of the new challenges out there. Because we’re gonna have to fix a lot of problems that are out there,” said Walters.
Walters has been teaching for 36 years at WEHS, and actually taught Principal Flowers, who graduated from Williston-Elko in 1998.
“We know that students engage with technology every single day. And we hope that they can use this way as a positive way to engage with technology, and use it as a learning tool to open their eyes to different career paths, or different experiences that maybe being from a small town they’ve never had.”
In a statement from VictoryXR CEO Steve Grubbs, he says:
“Studies show conclusively that students who learn in virtual reality remember more of what they are taught. South Carolina is pioneering this education metaverse initiative to address learning loss in a meaningful way with bold solutions. In a few years, all states will follow South Carolina’s lead.”
Principal Flowers says the headsets are currently at the school, but are not ready for use just yet.
He says they are still working with Victory XR to train teachers on how to use the headsets, and ensuring that they are fully functional.
Flowers expects them to be distributed to classrooms in the next month for students to use.