During the fall semester of my senior year at Menlo School, I was selected as an Independent Project Scholar, crafting and bringing to fruition a project of my choosing. As an extrovert who benefits greatly from the fundamentally human cues of emotion, intonation, and physical positioning and presence, I knew that I was not gleaning nearly as much remotely as I had hoped to in-person from the schedule of classes I excitedly chose for my last year at Menlo. In an effort to maximize what was left of my very involved and well-rounded education there, I endeavored to elevate our remote learning to an immersive level; I partnered with VR company Rendever to bring virtual reality goggles to the home-based classroom in order to better engage students.
Having completed the AP Latin Vergil course in my junior year, I worked with the Latin Department, headed by Dobbie Vasquez, to create an agenda that included a virtual 360 degree tour of the Roman Forum coupled with the major locations in Rome. She narrated to the class a tour of the same locations that Quintus visited in our Oxford Latin Course books, and we got to see our years of translation come alive. The second half of the lesson plan involved a 'community circle' format in which avatars representing students sat in a circle and were able to communicated unmuted and undistracted. The remotes in each student's actual hands allowed the on-screen avatars to mimic their physical movements, and sensors on the goggles even allowed facial expressions to be imitated in an elementary way.
I thoroughly enjoyed being able to not only resurrect the participation of in-person learning at home but also to watch my fellow classmates excitedly try out new technology and re-engage with their learning when presented with something novel. Similar to how generative AI is disrupting the educational world, I think AI has countless possibilities in the remote-learning atmosphere if it were to become more accessible.