Increasing Student Success with VR featuring Peter Darcy

Lindsay Schardon (ZENVA)

November 14, 2019 in Success Stories

Increasing Student Success with VR featuring Peter Darcy

We’re back again today with another Learner Success Story! This time we have Peter Darcy with us, an experienced teacher whose team won the VR Storytelling category at the Quickstart2VR event!

Thank you for joining us Peter, and congratulations to you and your students for the win! Before we jump into discussing your work as a teacher, can you tell us what got you into programming and virtual reality?

Thank you for inviting me to participate. I have always personally had an affinity for computer programs while growing up, so naturally, as most technology professionals do, I wanted to learn how to write and structure my own customized software. As time has moved on, and the emphasis that was originally placed on user interface design shifted to user experience design, I also found myself investigating novel technologies that had the capability of allowing users to interact with software on a completely new level.

Virtual reality headset setup at Peter Darcy's school

It’s so great you’re dedicated to keeping up with technology!

Let’s talk about the Quickstart2VR event, now that we know you a bit better. What factors do you think contributed to your win, and overall how do you think your students benefited from the experience?

First and foremost, I think it was the students who contributed everything to the win. They decided to take on an enormous task, employed everything myself and my colleagues have taught them through the years, and as a result, we’re able to deliver a product worthy of such high accolades. I think overall, my students greatly benefited from the idea of adaptability in the challenge and how to mitigate issues that occur late in production.

We can definitely tell that you’re quite proud of your students. As a teacher, how do you go about teaching a new technology like VR – especially in a way that allows your students to thrive?

By relating the content to real-world case studies that they can directly benefit from immediately. For example, with new technologies such as VR, we would be encouraging students to take programs that they create and consider either publishing it on an app store or considering entering it into some competition. By merging novel technologies such as this with real-world skills like entrepreneurship, we have found that students are more likely to thrive during their time in high school and beyond – transitioning them into life-long learners who are able to continually improve and keep up with our ever-changing world.

Peter Darcy school classroom

Given the category your group won for the Quickstart2VR event was for VR Storytelling, let’s talk a bit about that. In what ways do you think storytelling will change and benefit from a technology like VR?

Like other, similar entertainment mediums, I believe that VR can greatly benefit from integrating a strong narrative into its programs and help engage with audiences beyond the current demographic. Similar to how animation, and then later video games, were not necessarily considered in the same league as traditional film for narratives, I think that VR has the potential to provide a truly immersive storytelling experience unlike anything that has come before it. In addition to this, with so many technologies decreasing in cost, as well as an increased wealth of information available for people starting out, this appears to be one of the best times for people who want to convey an immersive story experience to jump into VR software development.

Peter Darcy activity area

We appreciate your insights into the future of VR, and we’re glad to know our courses can play a part in your life. Since you recently got a hold of our Virtual Reality Mini-Degree for you and your students, how are you liking the courses at Zenva so far, and how do you think they’ll help you and your students achieve even more?

From what I have seen in the course, I am very impressed. There is a wide variety of scope in the course, and the students can continue on from what they started to learn at the QuickStart2VR event and take it to the next level. I know for a fact that I will be employing the skills I learn in this Virtual Reality Mini-Degree to create new applications for the school to hopefully inspire the next generation to invest both time and effort into this field of expertise. I am certain that my students will use the skills they gain within the workforce or as part of their portfolio, as it can be applied to a vast array of domains.

Peter Darcy technology setup

We’re just out of time now, but we can ask one more quick question. Since you are an experienced teacher, what advice do you have for other teachers and/or students when it comes to teaching or learning newer technologies?

Look at the grander picture when choosing what technologies to invest time into learning. If students can see the potential of where the education can take them, and how they are able to get there, they would be more likely to invest more time willingly into the learning process and be stronger as a result. I have found that all these skills seem to prepare them well for real-world scenarios, as every software project requires skills that mirror a wide variety of specialist areas. On top of this, with technology becoming more affordable and the rise of VR/AR devices/software in the palm of anyone’s hand, the possibilities are endless.

And this closes out this Learner Success Story!  We want to give a big shout-out to Peter for taking this time to interview with us, and we’re eager to see the continued VR success for all his students!

Learn more about Peter and his accolades by checking out both his LinkedIn profile and research.

You can also help support Peter’s school by visiting their website.

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