UCS high school students immerse themselves in 360 degree video technology
UCS high school students immerse themselves in 360 degree video technology
Posted on 12/07/2017
Student with dark hair looking a computer editing a project

Utica Community Schools video production students are creating projects that will allow others to see their work in a whole new way.

The district is one of only five Michigan communities partnering with Digital Promise to provide students with 360 degree technology for video production courses.

“The 360 Filmmaking Challenge continues our focus to give students real-world experiences with the technology that is shaping their future,” Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns said. “Virtual reality is transforming the automotive, health care and defense industries in our region, and our students will have a competitive advantage for careers that are emerging in their own backyards.”

Utica High School sophomore Rhea Payne said the technology will allow students to tell a more powerful story.

“It’s a very eye-opening way to do it,” she said. “It’s something different than just watching it on a screen because you put yourself in a situation.”

Every UCS high school is offering the 360 degree filmmaking experience, as well as specialty programs the Utica Center for Science and Industry and the Utica Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology.

“This is uncharted territory,” said Utica High School teacher Joshua Etheridge. “Students are learning a new process and using cutting edge technology.”

Through the partnership with Digital Promise, schools are receiving 360 degree video production equipment and ongoing support, including working with professional filmmaker mentors.

The 360 Filmmaking Challenge requires students to identify a community issue – such as recycling or texting and driving – and create videos that address the problem.

Once completed, the students will preview their work in a national video contest through Digital Promise.

The students capture the video with a 360 degree camera technology stick. Once edited, the videos are viewed using virtual reality goggles.

“It certainly makes the video a lot more interesting,” said junior Gokhlayeh Walton. “You can add a lot more to the story. It’s fun to do.”

Digital Promise is a congressionally authorized bipartisan initiative created to spur innovation in education through the use of technology. UCS is a charter member of the organization’s League of Innovative Schools, which is coordinating the program nationally.

The 360 Filmmaking Challenge is another way UCS students are using virtual reality to enhance learning.

At the elementary level, the district has created virtual reality technology labs at four of its schools.

The technology blends the real world with the virtual, allowing students to collaborate on activities ranging from exploring the inner workings of the human heart to designing and building circuit boards or examining the physics of the world’s tallest buildings – all in a 3D virtual environment.

The project has earned UCS recognition as the Midwest’s only Center of Excellence for its innovation and leadership in providing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in classrooms.