Where to find the right network support to maintain VR experiences

Schools should check in with IT tech support, instructional tech coaches and tech-savvy librarians
By: | May 13, 2020
Magnolia School in Alabama

While virtual reality takes students (and teachers) to many places around the world they would otherwise never go, finding where to find the right network support to maintain these virtual experiences can take time. At Round Rock ISD, educators first needed to find out if their IT infrastructure could support it before adopting VR technology four years ago.

“If they said no, then we would have needed to look for alternatives and help the person who made the request understand why we could not support it,” says Jeff Uselman, director of instructional technology. The network must also be secure enough to keep student data safe.

Administrators must ensure tech support staff is available to maintain Wi-Fi stability and when teachers are using the technology for the first time.

“Tech support staff could help the teacher and students troubleshoot possible issues with the devices, which would allow the lesson to run more smoothly,” says Julie Doyle, director of instructional technology and digital learning at the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough in Massachusetts. “Tech support could also help teachers learn to manage the issues on their own so they will feel comfortable and confident to use the devices again.”

One of the three teachers whom Doyle helped pilot VR devices in 2018-19 was an instructional tech coach while the others had access to tech-savvy librarians.
Meanwhile, some platforms that use iPads, for example, operate on separate servers to prevent students from opening other programs on the school’s Wi-Fi.

“Many six-graders will log on their tablet and say, ‘Ooh! YouTube!’ But then there is nothing on the screen when they try to open it,” says Library Media Specialist Michelle Davis of Magnolia School in Alabama, which first purchased 12 sets of iPad-based VR kits last summer. “We recently got 10 more but found that they were all connecting to a separate server, so I had to call my vendor to help put them onto the same closed Wi-Fi that our other iPads were connected to.”

Read the other stories in DA’s series on VR field trips:

3 best practices for taking students on virtual field trips

How to get teachers comfortable with the technology

Can virtual reality experiences be accomplished remotely?

31 apps and websites—some of them free—for virtual field trips

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