Virtual reality creates new learning possibilities inside LMC classroom

NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - College is known for plenty of reading, studying and long lectures, but Lake Michigan College is adding goggles and controllers to that list.

Both LMC’s Niles and Benton Harbor campuses are using virtual reality to create new possibilities of learning in the classroom.

"Virtual reality is a replica of reality, but it allows you to enter into a different realm, a different perspective,” said Nick Brittin, an English instructor at LMC. “A different way of seeing things where you can actually go geographically somewhere else or take on even a new identity.”

Students are getting the chance to dive into another world inside the classroom. Virtual reality is being used in classes like Spanish class, speech and even literature.

"When my adviser was talking to me about the classes that were available, she was like, 'This one also has VR stuff.' I was like, 'OK,'” Brandywine High School senior Ashlyn Farmer said.

Farmer is enrolled in LMC’s early college program, which allows her to take college classes while in high school.

For Brittin, using the technology to teach is a no-brainer.

"We can take virtual field trips and see what the rest of the world looks like,” he said. “Some of our students have never been beyond our borders. Now they can go anywhere.”

But that doesn’t mean virtual reality is replacing books and lectures.

"We can start with 'Hamlet,' read the original 'Hamlet,' and then immerse ourselves in a virtual world,” Brittin said. “You can make some connections between what happened 400 years ago with literature and now what's happening in 21st century.”

According to Brittin, students are positively reacting to the use of virtual reality and look forward to class.

"I think it's really cool that you get to interact more with the story and stuff instead of just reading a book,” Brandywine High School student Aurora Brittin said. “You get to actually be part of it.”

Lake Michigan College hopes to implement virtual reality in even more classes at the school in the future.