The New Yorker revealed that the Florida-based OptimaEd is enrolling students in virtual schools.
The report states that during the previous academic year, the company had 170 students enrolled in its academy.
The New Yorker reported Adam Mangana, creator of OptimaEd, as saying that student life is “more decentralized.”
Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, predicted that virtual reality headsets will eventually make their way into classrooms and create a new, immersive future for education back in 2015.
At the Dublin Web Summit that year, Luckey said that reading books is not the greatest way for children to learn also schools classrooms need repair.
Going through real-world experiences and doing things has evident benefits. Field excursions are used to address this. The majority of people will never be able to participate in the bulk of those experiences, which is the problem.
These questions now appear to be being addressed by Optima Academy Online, which appears to be fulfilling Luckey’s goal.
According to a recent reported by The New Yorker, the school, which began last year, uses the Meta Quest 2 headset to transport student on ‘field trips’ to remote areas like a Mount Everest base camp.
Erika Donalds, a conservative education activist and the wife of a Republican congressman, is the CEO of OptimaEd, the Florida-based corporation that runs Optima Academy.
Erika Donalds is a supporter of the “classical school movement,” which calls for a return to more traditional, antiquated Western educational practices, and OptimaEd refers to its curriculum as “classical.”
“I see a huge and growing industry of à-la-carte education options — the ability to customize the experience both physically and geographically,” she said in an interview with The New Yorker.
children have the opportunity to choose Optima over their local option because of Florida’s school choice program, which provides vouchers for children to attend options outside of their district’s public school. Additionally, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a new law in April that removes the state’s voucher program’s financial qualifying requirements.
More than 170 full-time students from all around Florida have been enrolled at Optima Academy throughout the last academic year. According to The New Yorker, as Optima spreads its virtual reality services to Arizona and portions of Michigan, that number may quadruple this autumn.
The school teaches students using a combination of online courses and virtual reality training.
According to the journal, students in third through eighth grade are given Meta Quest 2 headsets to use for 30 to 40-minute sessions up to five times each day.
Outside of these sessions, students spend their days working on their assignments and communicating with their instructors online. According to Optima’s website, instruction for kindergarten through second grade is more comparable to virtual school, where lessons are both live and pre-recorded.
According to The New Yorker, Optima Academy offers roughly 250 unique virtual settings and also sells access to these environments to other independent schools.
Students in a sixth-grade science class were taken on a virtual field trip to an Everest base camp in one of the incidents described in the study.
The journey didn’t go as planned, despite the virtual setting being “elaborately staged” with grey tents, sleeping bags, and the sound of wind in the distance, according to the New Yorker. The lecture was tough for the pupils, and they had trouble cooperating during several tasks. Additionally, studies have shown that the “simulator sickness” or “cybersickness” that VR headsets may induce is akin to motion sickness.
Studies have also indicated that extended VR usage may even cause “reality blurring,” in which users find it difficult to tell the difference between real life and virtual reality, according to Jeremy Bailenson, the head of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, in an interview with The New Yorker.
The creators believe that a student’s life shouldn’t revolve entirely around school.
The lack of human connection might be one of the disadvantages of online, remote, and virtual learning overall.
However, many who attend Optima told The New Yorker that it may be a haven for pupils who suffer from social anxiety or who have been bullied. The schoolhouse is supposed to deliver so much, according to Adam Mangana, co-founder of Optima, who also told The New Yorker. A student’s ideal existence is more decentralized.