As you know, CTE places a premium on learning that is less theory based and more focused on working with one’s hands and performing a task. Be it welding metal, sautéing herbs or dressing a wound, CTE is all about physically practicing the craft or trade students learn about.
One way to bring learning alive, particularly learning that focuses on real-world occupations, is to arrange for students to take part in out-of-classroom experiences. However, because field trips are hard to coordinate and organize, they can be costly, and they often take away from class time in other subjects, an alternative (or supplement) is to create a virtual reality experience. My proposal is to work with Arts A/V career cluster students to create VR experiences in occupational settings. Imagine letting students tour the working conditions of the engine room aboard a ship, or welding on a construction site, or working in an emergency room. Creating virtual reality tours of workplaces has the potential to provide educators an opportunity to impact a greater number of students at a lower cost.
How To Implement?
Let me begin by stating that for this innovation proposal to be a success, I first need to learn a lot more about how virtual reality content is created. I do know that there are two different classes of headsets: one that requires a high-end computer to work with it, and one that can be used with a smart phone. Examples of the high-end type are the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Examples of the smart phone dependent style are the Samsung Gear VR (better, but only works with a Samsung phone) and the dirt cheap Google Cardboard. I mention this because acquisition of hardware will be necessary to implement this project. Another component of this initiative is how to create the content. In addition to a 360-degree VR camera, I will need to coordinate with Arts A/V instructors and students who will create the content. I will also need to coordinate with business partners who will allow access to their facilities for filming. Finally, there is the matter of how to disseminate VR video tours. I envision needing to create an online repository from which the tours can be accessed.
What Does Success Look Like?
Ultimately, I will deem this initiative successful when CTE teachers and students across my district have access to a library of virtual reality experiences that immerse the student in the working environments of high demand/high wage occupations.