Year 8 students Jayden Lumsdale and Jacob Nitschke using the VR technology at Dysart State High School, one of five schools in Queensland to receive a VR learning hub. Photos: Kristen Booth
Year 8 students Jayden Lumsdale and Jacob Nitschke using the VR technology at Dysart State High School, one of five schools in Queensland to receive a VR learning hub. Photos: Kristen Booth

Regional CQ school receives new tech to boost learning

DYSART students, parents and teachers are excited to have access to the latest technology with a new Virtual Reality (VR) learning hub at the school.

Dysart State High School (DSHS) is one of five schools in Queensland to receive a VR learning hub provided by Endeavour Foundation in partnership with Arrow Energy.

Students can take part in a range of programs, including learning how to drive a forklift, operate in a workshop environment and how to operate public transport.

Chris Beaumont, Endeavour Foundation’s Service design partner, developed several of the learning programs, including travel safety and VR driving, with Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Year 8 student Jayden Lumsdale using the VR technology.
Year 8 student Jayden Lumsdale using the VR technology.

“We originally developed the VR Learning program three years ago for customers at our adult Learning and Lifestyle day services,” Mr Beaumont said.

“However, they’re perfect for school students as well because it feels like you’re playing a game but you’re actually learning at the same time.

“It’s a great learning tool for people with autism and different learning disabilities because it’s immersive and visual. It helps block out external stimuli so they can really focus on the task at hand.”

With VR Learning, students don’t have to worry about making a mistake — they can do the task repeatedly in a safe environment until they gain the confidence to try it in the real world.

DSHS students with disabilities support teacher, Ariana Walkom says the students were already very excited about the program.

“The students that have tried it so far have loved it and are talking to their friends about it and they want to have a go as well,” she said.

“It’s really exciting to get that buzz and enthusiasm around that equipment.

“I know a lot of our students with disabilities respond really well to technology as opposed to writing or copying and being immersed in it (VR) really makes that learning experience a lot more authentic.

“To actually have it presented in front of them and physically be able to do it, it makes that learning experience really valuable to them.”

Endeavour Foundation Service Designer Chris Beaumont and DSHS students with disabilities support teacher Ariana Walkom with Year 8 students Jayden Lumsdale and Jacob Nitschke.
Endeavour Foundation Service Designer Chris Beaumont and DSHS students with disabilities support teacher Ariana Walkom with Year 8 students Jayden Lumsdale and Jacob Nitschke.

She said the forklift training would be extremely beneficial for the students in opening potential employment opportunities down the track.

“If local industry is seeing the things we are doing with virtual reality, around equipping those kids with the skills before they get onsite, whether that be in the mining industry or just a construction site, it means they’re more willing to give those kids a go.”

Natalie Nitschke, mum of Year 8 student Jacob, says her son has been talking about the program non-stop since he first tried it.

“It’s great to have something new for the kids to get involved with and I think it’s going to be great for their learning,” she said.

“I’m already seeing positive results just today seeing him in here, so that’s really great.

“It just calms him down being in here doing this (VR). He’s reacting well and did his other school work beforehand.”

Dysart State High School is one of five schools in Queensland to receive a Virtual Reality learning hub provided by Endeavour Foundation in partnership with Arrow Energy.
Dysart State High School is one of five schools in Queensland to receive a Virtual Reality learning hub provided by Endeavour Foundation in partnership with Arrow Energy.

Jacob was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD and Mrs Nitschke says the program will be a big confidence booster for her son and other students with learning difficulties in the mining town.

“It gives the parents a bit of hope that we are actually getting something else that will help our kids in the long run,” she said.

“This will set them up towards job opportunities and everything, not just their learning abilities.”

Dysart State High School is one of five regional Queensland schools to receive the VR Learning hub, with others in Moranbah, Dalby, Chinchilla, and Miles State Schools.

Ms Walkom said the program would extend beyond just students with disabilities to also include students who were generally disengaged with the curriculum and needed another avenue to support their learning.


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