GPAEA Goes Virtual!

Eighty-five students from 13 districts in Great Prairie AEA came together to participate in Virtual Reality Education Pathfinders (VREP), a student-led, competency-driven, producer-oriented, project-based approach to learning that utilizes cutting edge virtual reality and 3D tools. More simply put, “Students Leading & Learning in 3D.”

Sessions held in Burlington and Ottumwa gave districts the opportunity to participate in a two-day training given by other Iowa students who have had success with the program. Students Elisha Gunderson, a student from Kirkwood Community College and David Wehr, a student from Sigourney High School guided the Burlington training session. A panel of four students lead by Brent Reel, from BCLUW High School in Conrad guided the Ottumwa training session.

The students used Blender, a free 3D graphics application, to create “Gus,” a virtual Gingerbread Man. This process helped them learn about the program and tools, 3D modeling and rendering, and lead into animation. On the second day Great Prairie AEA hosted a panel and showcase for the students.

Participating districts included: Burlington, Cardinal, Central Lee, Chariton, Moravia, Mount Pleasant, New London, North Mahaska, Oskaloosa, Pekin, Wapello, Washington, and Winfield.

After the showcases these districts received the hardware necessary to begin implementing a virtual reality program at their district. “The training and showcases couldn’t have gone better,” commented Dr. Sally Lindgren, Great Prairie AEA Technology Coordinator. “This program is truly student driven and districts participating will get a jump start on implementing Virtual Reality labs in their schools.”

Virtual Reality Education Pathfinders (VREP) provides students the opportunity to lead and learn using three-dimensional (3D) virtual reality education. Student developers lead and facilitate this training with professional support. Students participate as both developers and users of 3D VR environments and applications. Teachers then use student-created applications in the classroom to facilitate learning for all.

For more information about the VREP, contact Dr. Sally Lindgren at 319-753-6561 Ext. 1253 or

Watch for more photos and video on GPAEA News.

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