School develops VR tour for prospective students

Friday, 13 August, 2021

School develops VR tour for prospective students

A Sydney high school has found an innovative way to attract new student enrolments.

With COVID restricting access to campuses, prospective Gymea Technology High School students have access to an interactive virtual tour of the school.

The 360° virtual reality tour takes the viewer through the school’s classrooms, technology spaces, IMAX theatre, commercial kitchens and outdoor learning areas connected to Wi-Fi.

Principal Peter Marsh said the tour was a new way to reach prospective students and their parents since COVID-19 restrictions had made it more difficult in the past year for physical visits to schools.

“Like many other schools in NSW we haven’t been able to have large events like our open nights for parents and students, so we had to think laterally,” Marsh said.

The tour uses 3D animated icons like fish and fruit that the viewer has to drag and drop to find out more about the school’s learning programs, facilities, students and teachers. There are also quizzes to answer and film of interviews with students and classroom demonstrations by teachers.

Gymea Technology High School has a focus on technology to support teaching and learning activities across the curriculum and offers a Talented Technology Program for students from Year 7 to Year 12.

The virtual reality tour was developed and produced by a parent, Karen Young, assisted by accelerated technology students in Years 9 and 10 who helped with the additional video footage and sound recordings.

“We had a highly scheduled shoot day at the school and because we were filming with a 360° camera there really wasn't anywhere or anything you could hide. The student speakers didn’t have cues to read, so everything had to be timed with precision,” Marsh said.

“The tour highlights our state-of-the-art facilities but most importantly it gives a glimpse of the learning that takes place and the collaboration between our students and teachers.”

Young, a courseware designer for an online learning company, said “the kids were fantastic to work with” on the full-day shoot.

“I'd experienced Gymea's unique open nights before where the tour is enthusiastically run by the students themselves,” she said.

“Translating this event into a 360° video and online interaction was easy. The structure was already there, so all we needed to do was to reassemble this event into an online format.

“Being a VR experience helped capture a level of transparency that the school offers on those open nights.”

The tour also uses drone footage and highlights the school’s emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning, including robotics, multimedia, coding, electronics, 3D printing and the technology centre with capacity for 120 students.

The Talented Technology Program for students with high potential in technology provides Year 7 and 8 students with the opportunity to undertake project-based learning through gaming design, robotics, web design, multimedia, movie design, photographic and digital media.

In Years 9 and 10 the Talented Technology Program provides students with a choice over their technology pathway, including studying a HSC technology-based course in Year 10 instead of Year 12.

Experience the tour here.

Image caption: Hannah, Jessica and Mia work together using robotic kits to create a responsive robot that moves in at least two different ways. This photo was captured during the 360° tour filming.

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