Board touts VR technology used in math classes

by Martin McConnell

Feb. 21 board of education meeting

The Independence Board of Education’s meeting began with a showcase of virtual reality technology from the school’s math department. The program, called “Prisms,” is known in the world of technology as “the new paradigm for math education.”

“We’ve been very, very fortunate and I’ll even say appreciative as a teacher; [I am] an old dog learning new tricks,” Independence High School math teacher Mark Corpuz said of the new technology. “We were given these a year ago for free, because we ended up getting in on the bottom floor as they were developing this technology.”

Board members were provided with virtual reality headsets and given a demonstration of the technology. According to a March 1 press release by the Prisms company, Ohio currently leads the nation in use of this experimental math technology.

“Leading the nation in scaling experiential learning, Ohio launched Prisms’ VR new world math learning design in fall 2021 to over 50 school districts [and] 15,000 students,” according to the press release. “It’s the first state to drive VR adoption to help raise math engagement and scores for all its students.”

Board members said the hope is that the implementation of technology can help answer the question of how students will use math concepts.

IPS Principal T.J. Ebert tests the VR technology. Photo by Martin McConnell.

Students can enter into any number of virtual situations, ranging from a cathedral to a city center. From there, the technology guides them through a math lesson, and shows how the material can be used in real life.

“What’s great about this is that as the teacher, I’m on the desktop, I can see where all the students are,” Corpuz said. “So, if the student is having trouble, they can lift [their] arm, they can message me, just like a test, and I can message them to move them along.”

According to Corpuz, the technology is not limited to math. There are products in the pipeline from Prisms that include environmental science, biology and history.

In other news

In addition to the new technology, Independence High School may see the introduction of therapy dogs around its campus in the near future. The district entered into a memorandum of understanding with Therapy Dogs International. The New Jersey-based company will likely supply the school with at least one dog.

This development comes on the heels of more schools acquiring similar therapy animals such as the new Brecksville-Broadview Heights Elementary School therapy dog, Cocoa.

Other topics discussed include a possible new home for the wrestling team, and an agreement between Independence High School and Lorain County Community College for IHS students to earn college credit while in high school. The former will be discussed at further length in future meetings. ∞