How HTC VIVE Helped to Deploy XR Devices in North Dakota Classrooms

Speakers from HTC VIVE, CareerViewXR, and the North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education, speak on leveraging XR hardware and immersive learning solutions

How HTC VIVE Deployed XR Devices in North Dakota Classrooms
Virtual RealityNews Analysis

Published: March 6, 2024


Rory Greener

In early February, following the successful launch of the Vision Pro rocket, CareerViewXR, an emerging immersive edtech startup, spearheaded a statewide initiative providing over 300 HTC VIVE VR headsets and accompanying immersive learning software to schools across North Dakota.

This initiative marks a growing partnership between HTC VIVE and CareerViewXR to distribute VIVE Focus Plus headsets to education groups in the North Dakota region. CareerViewXR offers a cross-platform immersive learning service that students can access on various devices, partly achieved by the platform’s web-based operations, which allow for a quick set-up process.

The firm’s web-based service is already widely used in the region’s schools, providing a foundation for students to leverage an XR device, with over 300 devices landing in schools.

  • Daniel O’Brien, the GM of Americas at HTC VIVE
  • Matthew Chaussee, the Co-Founder and CEO of CareerViewXR
  • Wayde Sick, the State Director of the ND Department of Career and Technical Education (NDCTE)

Introducing XR to Education Groups

Matthew Chaussee noted how the VR headset-based CareerViewXR Project and solution “was a project that was four years plus in the making.”

Chaussee also explained that in 2019, his firm saw an opportunity to create immersive workforce experiences following the creation of content for residential real estate markets. Initially, CareerViewXR developed solutions for recruitment before joining the North Dakota District. 

Chaussee added:

We saw an opportunity arise to create workforce experiences. Those were initially for recruitments, but then K12 schools and Wayde’s groups saw the experiences we were creating and said if you can put an educational message into those, we can use those in the classroom for career awareness and exposure. That was June of 2019, which started an entire cascade of iterations. Visits with schools and working through entrepreneurial programmes in the state of North Dakota that eventually allowed us to launch the CareerViewXR platform in 2022.

Wayde Sick also explained that as a member of the Workforce Development Council, he first met Mathew and experienced his immersive learning platform, “I wanted to figure out how we can do this and create the correct expiration experience – I can’t believe it’s almost been five years already,” Sick remarked.

The State Director continued:

The 2023 Legislative Assembly granted US dollars to the Department of Current Tech Ed to contract to provide virtual reality exploration experiences to students across the state, and we rolled it into our existing career exploration platform that’s already available to every student across the state of North Dakota – with very little effort. I had some great conversations with him and watched Matt as he continued to expand his library. We granted some dollars to some specific schools to partner with Matt to continue to build his library, get the test cases done, and do the case studies to show the impact.

Deploying XR in the Classroom

The CareerViewXR CEO noted that when the North Dakota Legislature introduced a bill allowing career exploration software funding, the region’s leaders selected CareerViewXR to provide content for North Dakota’s career and technical education groups.

CareerViewXR now supports content for all middle schools and high schools, both public and private, across the state of North Dakota. However, “there was a gap,” Chaussee explains: 

The career view platform can be used on non-VR devices as well as VR devices. Every school has non-VR devices so they can access the web-based experiences, but not every school has a VR headset. We were looking for opportunities to figure out how to close the gap on that. How do we make sure that every school has access to quality pieces of hardware throughout the course of 2023? 

Daniel O’Brien explains that HTC VIVE focuses on the different commercial and learning aspects of using XR technology to bring benefits to the classroom “and never as a replacement either.” He noted.

Whether you’re an adult learner or a youth learner, we’re all learners, and one thing that we learned very early on with the VIVE business was that only about 60 per cent of human beings really learn efficiently and effectively in a lecture style. We know that 99.9 per cent of human beings learn kinesthetically when using their hands, their eyes, their ears, and all of their different senses.

The HTC VIVE GM also noted how XR is an “effective tool to have in the classroom to broaden exposure to different work environments, training environments, and safety environments.” From oil fields to an emergency room, XR devices “can bring that to life in the classroom for students – you can inspire their careers and the next stage of their life – our goal is to continue driving the brand, our products, and solutions forward to make XR more accessible.”

O’Brien added:

That’s why we were so passionate about getting involved with this project, and we’re going to continue to support it, especially the education vertical.

Sick also spoke on the effectiveness of XR in the classroom by explaining how VR environments can help bring students to demanding settings which may also require restrictive safety considerations – “one example of what virtual reality can do is that you can’t go into an emergency room because of safety and HIPAA and all these things.”

Chaussee said:

This is a system that is not to replace the actual field trip, the actual job shadow. However, there are time, geography, financial safety, and privacy constraints that prevent us from getting students into all of the locations that we would physically want to put them. This allows them to explore safely and with 24/7 access. 

Working with HTC VIVE for Education to Ensure Operational Success

This year, CareerViewXR gained an opportunity to work with HTC VIVE to leverage its Vive Focus Plus headset in the classroom, and HTC VIVE “were gracious enough to provide a price point that we could afford,” Chaussee added.

Chaussee also said how following contacting HTC VIVE, CareerViewXR acquired roughly 1300 headsets, and CareerViewXR is “donating just over 300 of those, one to every middle school and high school across the state of North Dakota, to ensure that all schools, no matter what size, have equitable access to this hardware so students can not only access it on their standard devices but now can get completely immersed in the five dozen plus experiences that we’ve created to date.

Speaking on working with North Dakota education groups, O’Brien added: 

Just looking at the purpose of our brand, it’s a blue triangle. A lot of people think it’s an interesting brand logo, but it actually stands for technology, innovation, and humanity. When we started our journey into XR, we aimed to provide products that would bring actual solutions into a commercial space, an education space, or for consumers. A lot of what we have focused on since 2015, when we put out our first dev kits, was looking at ways that we could bring solutions and performance improvements to human beings. – A lot of our younger students today are becoming digital 1st and digital natives.

Sick also added:

This is just the next evolution. Dan said that our students are digital natives. They’ve grown up with this. In order to keep things fresh, original, and engaging. This is the next step: Letting them experience what it’s like on that job site. This doesn’t replace the professional coming in. This doesn’t replace the job shadow. This doesn’t replace the field trip but it fills the void when those things may not be possible; and it engages those students.

Engaging with Feedback to Promote Adoption

Chaussee spoke on CareerViewXR’s steps to ensure its successful XR solution deployment. The CEO highlighted how his team spent “hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in the classroom working directly with teachers and students.”

Chaussee also emphasised how the CareerViewXR technology solution is not a thrown-together product; the firm “spent years and tonnes of time visiting teachers to understand problems and apply the right [XR] feature set to address that specific problem, which is career awareness.”

He added:

The overwhelming reaction has been positive. There have been some folks that have expressed concern, saying the best way for students to learn is to get there in person. I’m going to be the first person to say absolutely the best way is for them to experience it in person. But 99 per cent of the time, it’s not possible that’s where virtual reality provides a critical tool to assist with a gap that’s been there forever.  

Chaussee explained that another crucial aspect of introducing XR into the classroom and engaging with students was leading off with a web-based platform, which got students and teachers thinking about using immersive media in the classroom; “that is a really important first step in getting widespread or mainstream adoption for bringing virtual reality into the classroom.”

Chaussee also added:

There’s another really critically important piece here in that not every student can wear a VR headset. There are some that have tactile sensitivity issues. Some have vision issues, so make sure there are alternative formats so students can still access that content. What is really important to us as well? So, for us, it’s always been a hybrid approach. Still, the most immersive way to get into the experiences is with a head-mounted display, which is why we were excited when there was this opportunity to go statewide.

Concluding, O’Brien said that HTC VIVE is “continuing to drive forward on the barriers or the hurdles to adoption.”

He noted:

We want to make sure that if a teacher is in the classroom and if they have a mixture of headsets or brands, it can all be used, right? So, we look at it and make sure that from a solution standpoint, it’s as easy as possible for a teacher to implement the content. If one student is on a computer, one student is on an iPad, and another student is on a headset, we enable that technology to work across platforms. So, from our perspective, from our brand, we’re very focused on making sure that we understand those hurdles. 

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