Virtual reality has growing presence at Marlborough

Sara ’18 participates in a virtual reality experience. Photo by Sophie ’20.

Over the past year, visual arts instructor Joshua Deu has offered Marlborough students the opportunity to experience virtual reality. He integrated the technology into many of his classes including a newly created 7th and 8th grade elective called “Design, Animation, and Interactivity.”

As of this fall, the class is a new elective, and the 7th and 8th graders who signed up to participate are currently using a virtual reality program called “Tilt Brush” to collaborate with each other and create a three dimensional sketch of a tree-centered play structure.

Once they refine the sketch and produce a final draft, Deu mentioned the possibility of transforming the structure into a 3D printed model if time and resources permit.

Deu said that having access to virtual reality as a medium for the sketch has had significant advantages.

“[Virtual reality] is very helpful in terms of design for architecture… The value of creating things in virtual reality is that you have control of a space,” Deu said.

Students had also used the technology during the 2016-2017 school year. Filmmaking and former Digital Storytelling student Ellie ’20 described her experiences with Tilt Brush and other programs such as an underwater simulation called “the Blu.”

Ellie said she appreciated the fact that virtual reality allows one to decide on what they wanted to see or explore.

“Before coming to Marlborough I didn’t have opportunities to work with a lot of technology,” Ellie said, “I really liked how you could direct your own experience.”

Head of School Priscilla Sands agreed that technologically advanced opportunities are an important part of the school’s curriculum.

“As head of a girls’ school, I want women to have the opportunity to lead with some of this technology, to think about how it could make life better,” Sands said. “I’ve looked at every aspect of education and thought, ‘What’s the role of that in a school? How do we teach creativity? How do we teach innovation?’”

Although Deu said that he had not decided on any additional specific programs that he would introduce at Marlborough, Sands said she hopes to see more programs introduced involving virtual reality.

“We have so many modalities for learning,” Sands said, “This is just another thing to be excited about.”

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