zSpace brings ‘virtual reality’ to Longview

The technology of the future is arriving at Longview ISD campuses soon and training is already underway.

zSpace brings ‘virtual reality’ to Longview

Fri Jan 10, 2020

The technology of the future is arriving at Longview ISD campuses soon and training is already underway.

During a seminar at the LISD administration building last month, zSpace technicians were on hand to show teachers how to best utilize their technology.

What makes zSpace so different from a normal computer is that zSpace combines elements of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to create lifelike experiences that are immersive and interactive.

Using glasses that are about the size and weight of regular sunglasses, five sensors on them work in conjunction to bring objects on the screen to life.

“The experience itself is unique. It doesn’t require large equipment that the students have to wear,” said Kevin Dougherty, zSpace Senior Director of Sales. “Students can lift a human heart off the screen, still beating, in perfect proportion and manipulate it right there in front of their eyes.”

In August the district board approved spending $500,000 to purchase technology for LISD campuses: LHS, South Ward, Ned E. Williams, Hudson PEP, Judson and Foster. With this upgrade, students will be able to get a more hands-on experience than would normally be possible. Something that might be cost prohibitive, such as taking apart a vehicles engine, to the downright impossible, seeing the moon up close and being able to break it down into its various layers, can all be done with zSpace’s computers.

“There should be joy and excitement in learning," Dougherty added. "At the same time, education should also be tied to standards and assessment, while also being exploratory in nature so that the kids learn for learning’s sake. Not because they have to achieve a certain arbitrary goal,”

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox expressed enthusiasm for the software, calling it "a potential game changer."

“I have no doubt that what’s going to happen with zSpace here will be revolutionary, and will positively impact every student who uses the technology," he said. "Who knows what future doctor, engineer, or other researcher is inspired to begin their career path because they were introduced to this technology at a young age."

Over 1,000 districts in the nation have rolled out zSpace to some extent with nearly 100 in Texas. No district in the nation though has seen as big of a rollout as LISD is seeing, according to Dougherty. The training that the teachers received is the first train-the-trainers seminar that was district specific.