UL-Lafayette Research Scientists bring virtual reality technology to Broussard Middle school


University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor Dr. Heather Stone documented the historic relocation of a Native American tribe has turned her research into virtual reality lessons.
Broussard Middle School who was the first to test the technology.

Virtual reality technology has the potential to open up a world of new experiences for students everywhere. At Broussard Middle School, some students had the chance to experience this first-hand.

“Students are more plugged in than ever before,” said Dr. Kary Ritter, Research Scientist for the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Louisiana.

Textbook lesson plans are now becoming a thing of the past. A research scientist from the University of Louisiana has created VR courses to increase student engagement.

“The captivating experience actually increases retention. So when you’re doing educational applications like this one right here which we’re doing on crabs in Louisiana…users become much more involved in the actual application,” said Dr. Kary Ritter.

From courses on land loss and erosion to renewable and non-renewable resources, these eighth-grade students were able to put their entire body into the lesson.

“HEIDI: “This age group learns better by touching and experiencing things. So they really got into the movement,” said Broussard Middle School Teacher Heidi Hitter.

Mrs. Hitter prompted her students with the subject before the technology hit the classroom.

“Not every student’s going to learn the same way. So some learn better by audio. So hearing the lesson works best for them. Some learn better by visual. So seeing the interactive and seeing the 3-d really brings it on home,” Hitter said.

Dr. Ritter says they are breaking the edge with virtual reality equipment.

“Soon, virtual experiences will be almost the same as actual experience. This offers more captivating and drawing solutions to lots of issues we’re having with learners today,” Dr. Ritter added.

Broussard Middle School students were the pilot school for this project.  Their test results show a higher retention rate versus their normal lessons.

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