Forest Park students use zSpace augmented reality learning for first time
Longview News-Journal. Kristen Barton. October 14, 2019.

When Forest Park Magnet School students walked into classes Monday, something was different about their lesson for the day.

The Longview ISD teachers were not using their typical white boards. Instead, a monitor was set up at the front of classrooms, and students needed to wear one of two types of glasses.

Lesley Bozman’s eighth-grade social studies class did not just look at images and review material for a test, they engaged with it, using zSpace, augmented and virtual reality technology for classrooms.

One set of glasses is augmented reality. The glasses — which can be worn by only one student at a time — connect with a stylus and can move what is on the screen.

The other type of glasses shows the screen in 3D, and multiple students can watch in 3D at one time.

During the first part of the lesson about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the students used the technology to examine a document with a first-hand account of a man sold in the slave trade.

In the second part of the lesson, students used zSpace to see the routes of the slave trade. The augmented reality technology allows students to move the globe and show different angles.

The final part of the review looked at a ship in the slave trade. Students could zoom in and see different labeled parts of the ship.

East Texas Advanced Academies, the nonprofit organization running the charter campus, approved the purchase for the technology in August.

Longview ISD approved spending $500,000 on zSpace technologies for the five magnet campuses, which are East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Ware East Texas Montessori Academy, Forest Park Magnet School, Ned E. Williams Elementary School and Longview High School in August.

Currently, zSpace is only at Forest Park. ETAA CEO Cynthia Wise said installation on the campus was finished last week.

“This is our first actual frontloading day with zSpace,” she said. “We had it set up in the lab, and I can tell you anybody that sees zSpace, any child, and you notice that it’s amazing your initial interaction with it. The students were very excited.”

Frontloading is when a teacher introduces a new skill or concept to the class, Wise said.

After Bozman’s initial introduction, the students had one word to describe zSpace: “cool.”

As it is used more in the classroom, Wise said she wants other benefits.

“We want it beyond just cool,” she said. “How is it going to make a difference in the classroom as far as the student being able to master the subject matter, the curriculum or learn a concept or new skill? How is this going to enhance that? Because that’s important to us, not just to be cool, but what is the benefit of it?”

Nicia Luna, an eighth-grader in Bozman’s class, was the first student to test out zSpace during Monday’s lesson.

“You can see it clearly,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like that.”

Nicia said she thinks it will help with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness testing.

Kasandra Williams used the augmented reality and 3D glasses in the eighth-grade social studies class, too.

She said using zSpace is better than looking at a piece of paper.

“It makes me feel happy to know that we’re the first ones that they gave it to,” Kasandra said. “To let us try it out before they gave it to the other schools, it’s just exciting.”

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