Schools in Badenoch and Strathspey are among several schools in the Highlands region that will get a dose of “virtual reality” this fall.
The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project has announced a partnership with Stagecoach which will see the national company sponsor virtual reality (VR) headsets as part of a school engagement initiative reaching rural areas.
The VR headsets, along with the immersive portal, have quickly become a highlight of major events in Scotland, having been showcased at the Royal Highland Show, Inverness Highland Games and the Black Isle Show.
The ‘On the Road’ tour will see Stagecoach bringing the VR headsets to schools in Wester Ross, Ross-shire, Argyll and the Isles, Caithness, Badenoch and Strathspey throughout the autumn of this year.
Many school children will be accustomed to “playing” with their own VR headsets. However, using immersive 360-degree filming technology, the project will allow students to be taken on a journey through land, sea and air to real-life locations across the Highlands and Islands, at millions of miles from the fantasy worlds of Minecraft, Half-Life and Beat Saber they may be used to.
David Beaton, Managing Director of Stagecoach Highlands, said: “This is a fantastic project to be involved in. To be able to bring this technology to rural schools that might not otherwise have the opportunity to use it in an educational environment is great. ”
Councilor Ian Brown, Inverness City and Region Leader and co-chairman of the Inverness Castle Delivery Group, said: ‘VR headsets offer pupils the opportunity to be transported to different locations in the Highlands and islands, some of which you might never have seen before. It offers the opportunity for students to strengthen their understanding of the vastness of our beautiful landscapes and to understand why this project is so important for tourism in their regions”
Chair of Highland Council’s education committee, Councilor John Finlayson, said: “It’s great to see Highland students in rural areas being given the opportunity to use VR headsets and especially now that they have received positive press and high national exposure.
“The geography of the Highlands and the profile of our many rural educational environments means that inclusive initiatives such as this are truly appreciated.”
The next stage of the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands immersive portal will take place at the Tain Collegiate Church from September 22 to 24 during the St Duthac Book and Arts Festival.
Reflecting the spirit of the Highlands and Islands theme, it will encourage people to visit all parts of the Highlands and Islands in a new, innovative and sustainable way.
The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project is part of the Inverness Castle project which is supported by Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, a joint initiative backed by an investment of up to £315 million from the UK and Scottish Governments, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.