DHS CTE Virtual Reality Learning Experience

DeSoto High School Career and Technical Education Students Extend Learning into the Metaverse
Posted on 04/11/2022
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DESOTO, TEXAS -  The new partnership between the DeSoto High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department is taking student learning to the metaverse through a recent partnership with Redhouse Virtual Education, a metaverse agency that specializes in schools and academic learning.

Like other learning institutions, the COVID-19 global health pandemic created additional strain and barriers on traditional career-readiness experiences for students in the DHS CTE health science technology program clinical and practicum courses. However, DeSoto ISD has committed to the fulfillment of its mission to ensure students, without exception, learn and grow at their highest levels in alignment with board goals on future-readiness. The onset of the recent pandemic simply brought the words of the district’s mission, “without exception” into focus. 


“At the start of the pandemic, our health science students were not able to travel anywhere to get the required hands-on interaction. Students in the certified nursing assistant and phlebotomy programs were not able to go to nursing homes or healthcare facilities for this essential training,” said DeSoto ISD Career and Technical Education Director Nicholas Johnson. “As a team, we began to think about what if this lasts a long time and what other options we can provide to students. This is when we began to focus on developing the platform.”

The Redhouse platform uses the metaverse virtual reality tools such as the Oculus headset, modules, and a virtual classroom concept.  This allows students to participate in interactive, hands-on health science lessons with in-depth live learning experiences with doctors and healthcare professors anywhere in the world without leaving their classrooms. Students join peers and the teacher in the virtual space to intricately explore the components of the human body systems and its organs.

Amid the pandemic learning months, district leaders continue to build this new learning concept and worked with DeSoto students over the last two years to obtain feedback and perform beta testing during the summer months to develop a product suitable for their academic needs.

During the unveiling of the program, several DHS students in the health science classes and their teacher, Dr. Andrea Cleveland, explored the human heart. Standing around the perimeter of the room several students put on Oculus headsets and used their hands to virtually dissect and “touch” each component to see its shape, size, function, and location in the body system as guided by Dr. Cleveland.

“This gives us the opportunity to incorporate technology into our learning. With the Oculus, we are able to expand it, look inside it, and rotate it in 3-D and 4-D versus just seeing it on paper,” said Dr. Cleveland who sees benefits in using this multi-layered approach to student instruction in addition to traditional methods.

“We still complete our notes and videos, but getting them up, moving around, and interacting helps keep them engaged and they are able to grasp the concepts easier. We have different types of learners and this helps us hit all points,” she said.  

Anahi Teran, a student in the Health Science Medical Theory class, was excited about the integration of this technology into her learning experience. “I am a visual learner so it helps a lot to be able to see, study it together, make it bigger, and interact with it. It really helps you look at it from a different perspective instead of just on paper a lot.”

Redhouse Schools Virtual Education Chief Executive Officer Dr. Tony Scallion, a former DeSoto ISD employee who helped with the early installation of STEM education in the district, developed this platform and wanted to bring it to the students in DeSoto ISD.

“Technology is the equalizer,” began Dr. Scallion. “Because of this technology, now any student should have access to come into a virtual space to interact with professionals from anywhere in the world.”

Scallion shared that he established some of the first STEM programs as a DeSoto ISD coordinator with over 175 students from 2010 to 2015 and used this insight to gauge the benefits of his technology platform to increase access to learning resources for the school community. 

“I chose DeSoto because it is my heart and my career really expanded here. I wanted to bring this technology here and see students like me, from the same place that I am, to be able to grow and learn and then advance into their careers,” he said. 

The district’s partnership with academic learning partners like Redhouse Virtual Education is another means by which the district is equipping its students for the future and offering unique learning experiences that will propel them ahead of their peers in other districts.