HUNTER students are utilising virtual reality to learn what it's like to travel through the human body and to create their own worlds so they can have experiences such as occupying trenches in World War I.
Callaghan College principal Kylee Owen believes the three-campus school's "vibrant" staff and its more than 2500 students being "ready and willing" to explore evolving technology such as virtual reality is why it has been recognised as a finalist in two of the Australian Education Awards' categories: best STEM program and best use of technology.
The school was the first in the Hunter to adopt learning management system Canvas; has set up virtual reality laboratories with headsets and computers and offers a certificate three remote drone piloting course, among other initiatives.
"It's certainly not technology for technology's sake," Ms Owen said.
"Technology is utilised as a tool.
"It provides an opportunity for students to learn in a connected environment and build their collaboration capabilities. It gives them the opportunity to have a rich, authentic learning experience and... access environments or situations they may not be able to otherwise.
"We're really excited [about being a finalist]."
Other finalists across 22 categories include Cessnock Academy of STEM Excellence; Valentine Public; Kurri Kurri High and its teacher Lisa Scobie; Mount View High; Blue Haven Public and its principal Paul McDermott; Alesco Senior College; Margaret Jurd College; Cessnock High's Dr Scott Sleap; and St Philip's Christian College's Cessnock principal Darren Cox and executive principal Graeme Irwin. Winners will be announced on August 16.