Facebook Vendor Seeks Overlake Student Input on VR Technology

Future Studies

Stepping into Tina Proctor’s Future Studies class on Monday may be a glimpse into what’s to come in education. Working with Facebook vendor Blue Trot, students used virtual reality technology for the company’s research.

Blue Trot will use Overlake student feedback to make improvements to its VR technology for educational purposes. “Your information is so powerful,” Piera von Glahn who is co-founder of the company tells students. “It’s not only about the VR experience. Engaging with the equipment is vital for that experience too and taking fifteen minutes to adjust the headset doesn't help.”

Students sampled Blue Trot’s mobile and laptop VR headsets. The applications for classroom use may be years away, but Proctor sees its potential. “Augmented reality will be a mainstream teaching tool in our future classrooms,” says Proctor. “I trust that Overlake kids in a headset will go to the VR experience intended for my class. In augmented reality they’re all seeing the same thing so they’re in that shared experience.”

In addition to making an augmented reality experience believable, Blue Trot is getting feedback on who can benefit from it. “We want the experience to feel real, and right now we’re researching different types of subjects. The needs of a technology class are different from a 9th grade biology class or a history class,” says Blue Trot’s Cody Karutz. In Monday’s activity, students charted a trip through Google Earth to experience far away places. Students shared each other’s VR experience going from station to station.

Overlake’s Director of Technology Jay Heath works closely with Proctor throughout her Future Studies class. He currently sees Overlake’s role as one that can partner with technology companies with the latest education tools. “It’s empowering students to be aware of what’s coming so they can do good with it. By exposing them to these types of technology they’re getting a glimpse into the future.”

As for Proctor’s Future Studies class, she hopes that field trips to tech companies and classroom demos such as Blue Trot’s lead to a bigger discussion. “I’m trying to get the kids to think about the social ramifications and ethics behind technology. That part is often missing in the tech industry, and my hope is that when they move forward in whatever field they choose that they’ll have that awareness,” says Proctor.

Click here to get a look inside the Blue Trot demonstration.