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Virtual reality tours take the mystery out of university campus life

A Te Atatū Intermediate student tests the VR kit. Photo / Supplied

Māori education research group Te Pūnaha Matatini has partnered with the West Auckland community to provide a virtual reality experience in emotional wellbeing - especially for students who will go on to university.

Demystifying University is a programme created by Skills VR.

It is being trialled by Te Atatū Intermediate students and aims to expand their knowledge of their own emotional intelligence and provide a toolbox of practical techniques that can be applied to real life experiences people face every day at university.

The students are able to virtually 'walk around' the university campus and get a real sense of what it's like to be a university student through a virtual reality headset.

Students can also tap into their emotions through the push of a button and can communicate using AI (artificial intelligence) about how they're feeling.

"Taking the students into the university and even using VR wasn't even on the cards" says Te Atatū intermediate school teacher Tony Nemaia.

He says by experimenting with the initiative and expansion, it has quickly become a welcome addition to the students' school day.

The view from inside the virtual reality head set. Photo / Supplied

Nemaia, who is also a representative on Te Pūnaha Matatini, says whānau and iwi will play a big part in the rollout of the programme.

"Although the programme is in its infancy stage, the voices of whānau and the community have been positive," Nemaia said.

Honing in on the student and their emotions, supporting them through virtual reality is new to many, but has overwhelming support from the community

Some of the students have been involved in the development of the programme, attending expos at universities around Auckland and providing feedback.

Expos held by Auckland universities have allowed the intermediate students to experience the universities first hand, adding more knowledge of the environment they could expect when in attendance.

Nemaia says "a common goal for our community is to see the children thrive and adapt to the fast paced roll out of technology", adding that solid networks are being formed when word gets around about the programme.

Te Rito

Te Rito