My Oulu: Virtual reality in the classroom – watch the video and travel to the International Space Station
The Talvikangas School in Oulu is one of only two schools in Finland offering students immersive learning. It is an experimental teaching method using virtual reality (VR) that gives pupils a multi-sensory experience including taste, smell, sound and touch.
An immersive classroom was created last year at the Talvikangas School by headmaster Markku Veteläinen who strongly advocates its benefits.
"It is the future of education. Every day I put the VR headset on, it is a new experience. I can go out of school and see ancient Rome, for example," he says.
Talvikangas School has over 750 students and the VR space accommodates up to eight students at a time – so not everybody has yet experienced VR. But teachers plan to give each student at least one immersive teaching session by the end of the spring term.
"Facts get engraved in your head"
Subjects taught by VR include history, literature and science – and even physical exercise to help youngsters let off steam at break time.
Most of the students who have tried VR learning say they enjoyed the experience.
"You remember facts more easily – they really get engraved in your head," says Veikka, 15, after learning about gravity at the International Space Station during a VR physics lesson.
"Reading from a book is boring: it is lines of text and no one wants to do that," concludes Veikka with his classmates nodding in agreement.
VR space open for other schools as well
According to teacher Juuso Hänninen, VR is an important addition to a wide variety of teaching tools and methods.
"Nothing works for everyone. We have to have different types of teaching and learning so we can offer everyone something that suits them," he explains.
"We want to give a new experience to all the students and perhaps even inspire some of them to have a career in 3D."
Buoyed by positive feedback from students, the Talvikangas School is keen to make the VR space available to students from other schools in Oulu.
"I want everybody to have this experience", states headmaster Markku Veteläinen with a determined smile.