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Maine Teachers Demo Groundbreaking Virtual Reality Education Technology UPDATED

Maine educators got to demo some groundbreaking virtual reality technology at the State Library in Augusta Monday.

As this technology advances, and becomes less expensive and more commonplace, schools across the country are expected to be implementing these exciting education tools.

The Department of Education’s Virtual Reality expo brought educators from across the state to discuss how they’re using virtual technology in their curriculum.

“The idea is to be able to create an environment where learners at all levels can use gestures and natural movements of their hands to make and explore mathematical figures,” said Justin Dimmel, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education & Instructional Technology at the University of Maine.

The University of Maine’s Immersive Mathematics in Rendered Environments lab showed off their new ‘Hand Waver’ program.

Developed by students and recent graduates, it utilizes virtual reality to create learning experiences for those studying math and science.

“We are 1 of 4 medical schools in the world who are using this technology,” said Marilyn Gugliucci, Professor & Director of Geriatrics Education & Research for the University of New England.

The University of New England is beta testing an exciting geriatrics program called ‘We Are Alfred.’

“They become 74-year-old Alfred, an African American male. He has macular degeneration and hearing loss,” said Gugliucci.

It gives students the opportunity to experience what life is like for someone suffering from those conditions.

“A few years back, my dad was diagnosed with macular degeneration, so sitting there for seven minutes allowed me a seven minute walk in his shoes,” said Jaimie Pelletier, a Fort Kent Instructor.

“They just get this sense of WOW. I had no idea, and now I know what some of my patients may experience,” said Gugliucci.

“It’s just now sinking in that my dad is going through some of these same conditions and I had no idea. It really hits home,” said Pelletier.

Educators say these state-of-the-art education tools are not only providing students and teachers with challenges and experiences that were not possible before the advent of the technology, but also present endless possibilities for the future.