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Georgian College and SCDSB launch Indigenous VR learning program

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Georgian College partnered with the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) to bring the Indigenous learning virtual reality (VR) program to the classrooms.

The school board was the first to sign a memorandum of alliance with the college to give students access to the college's VR worlds, giving students fun and engaging ways to learn and practice speaking skills.

"It provides a very unique experience when learning the language because they get to go into these different worlds and interact using the language in real-life settings," said Laurie Smith, teacher at Regent Park School.

"It's been incredible as an educator to use the VR headsets because it's fostering different inter-cultural understanding between non-Indigenous and Indigenous students. So they get to come here, they're learning about the language, they're learning about culture," shared Smith.

"We can see the things that we recognize, for example, a potato in the grocery store, and then hear it in Ojibwe," said Emily Bell, a Grade 7 student.

The college aims to revitalize and preserve Indigenous languages in partnership and address the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.

"Learning the language is hard. It really is, and the way youth learn today is not the way that they learned 30 years ago. So to entice them, you have to create learning that is fun," shared Michele O'Brien, the Georgian College Indigenous Studies programming coordinator.

The SCDSB plans to expand the program to more regional schools, while officials with Georgian College say they are in talks to bring the program to other school boards in the province.

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