This fall, students in Florida can opt to attend a new, futuristic school at the Optima Classical Academy, a one-of-its-kind virtual reality charter school. It is currently enrolling for its first class of students in grades 3 to 8 and is set to open in August this year.
Students will put on a VR headset to participate in a virtual classroom where they will receive live instructions from their teachers and interact with their peers in the virtual space.
The school’s founder, Erika Donalds, explained that the entire experience is designed so that the students do not have to rely on their parents while learning remotely. According to her, the most significant challenge the institution faces is concerns about increased screen time. However, she believes it is a far better alternative than a Zoom classroom.
“Parents have seen Zoom school and the checkerboard of faces,” Donalds said. “Well, in virtual reality, students are in an Oculus headset during live instruction, which occurs between 8-12 each day in about 30 to 40 minute intervals with breaks in between, four days a week. That live classroom that we’ve built makes students feel like they’re in a classroom.”
Over 10,000 students are already enrolled in virtual schools across Florida. Donalds aims to make Optima Classical Academy, a tuition-free alternative, a more lucrative option for parents and students.
She added that she plans to enroll about 1500 students across Florida and hopes to take the concept to other states in the future.
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