SO-CALLED fast gaming computers, virtual reality headsets and state of the art software are becoming the new tools of the trade in classrooms under a cutting edge new program provided by the Endeavour Foundation.

The Endeavour Foundation, a renowned disability service provider, has launched a Virtual Reality Learning Hub at the Chinchilla Christian College in partnership with Arrow Energy.

Originally designed for people with learning disabilities, the virtual learning programs are proving a hit with school students of all abilities.

As part of the virtual reality (VR) package, the school has received a fast gaming computer, VR headset and steering wheel, software, and training to run VR learning programs.

Endeavour Foundation service design partner Chris Beaumont developed several of the state-of-the-art learning programs in conjunction with Queensland University of Technology.

“The beauty of these programs is that they are aimed at assisting students with different learning disabilities practice skills in a safe environment before unleashing them in the real world,” said Mr Beaumont.

“We originally developed these tools for our adult Learning and Lifestyle day services, however, they’re perfect for school students because it feels like you’re playing a game but you’re actually learning too.

“It helps everyday situations become familiar before you run any risks so when you’re ready to catch a train for the first time or even drive a car, you feel more confident in real-life thanks to the virtual practice.”

Chinchilla Christian College’s Mr Nathan McDonald, Reece McConnell, Joshua Stevens, Caleb Bannerman, Jeslyn Federico, Levi Ward and Mr Stuart Kenealy.

Arrow Energy’s tenure management and external relations vice president, Leisa Elder, said the VR kits were a “next step” advancement in education.

“As a company, we are constantly looking for the next advance in technology that improves what we do,” Ms Elder said.

“We are harnessing the power of virtual reality for external communications, and we’re also stepping
into augmented reality for our engagement with landholders to show them the placement of infrastructure on their land.

“So, I am delighted to see our great community partner, Endeavour Foundation, bringing VR-supported training into schools in our areas of operation.”

Chinchilla Christian College’s Digital Technologies teacher Stuart Kenealy said: “I’m very, very impressed because we’ve actually been doing a virtual reality unit with our year 10 digital technology students and we’ve been using just an old mobile phone in one of those cardboard VR headsets.

“The Head of section has already been talking about one student in particular using the Driving package. That is going to be very handy for him to have this sort of virtual experience first before he eventually begins that journey of trying to get himself a licence.”

Mr Kenealy said as well as using the technology with Year 10 students the school would be looking to integrate the VR learning into the support plans for students with special needs.

Since 2012, the Endeavour Foundation-Arrow Energy partnership has improved access to disability services in regional Queensland providing more than 1000 hours of respite care, eight weeks work experience to job seekers, and two employment and training scholarships.

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