Southwest Florida's newest school embraces virtual reality

Posted at 6:23 AM, Jan 07, 2022

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — "Show and tell" is taken to a new, high-tech level as a new charter school launching in Southwest Florida integrates virtual reality learning into its lesson plans.

Optima Classical Academy provides students Oculus virtual headsets to use for free throughout the school year.

Using the headsets, students learn through live instruction, with the teacher writing on the chalkboard, which you can actually hear. They also have lessons in small groups with a teacher on standby for help if they need it.

Real-world instruction is also part of the curriculum, including the potential for outdoor exploration. Physical materials will also be given to pupils.

"Each student will receive a student success kit that will have notebooks, literature, and supplies that they'll be using," explained Optima Domi CEO Erika Donalds.

A demonstration lesson given Thursday involved up-close showcasing of the solar system, molecular structure and even a history lesson about the White House from a virtual rendering of the Oval Office.

The charter school is accepting prospective enrollees for the 2022-23 school year. Parents of any child in 3rd to 8th grade eligible for public school in Florida can apply online. A lottery will be held at a later date to choose pupils.

Tuition for accepted students will be free, thanks to a grant awarded to Collier County by the state.