Ross-shire pupils to get virtual reality tour as Spirit of the Highlands and Islands hits the road

The immersive virtual reality experience uses the latest technology.

SCHOOLCHILDREN in Ross-shire are to get a head-turning tour of the Highlands and islands – without leaving their classrooms.

Virtual reality (VR) headsets will be used to offer pupils the chance to sample the immersive “Spirit of the Highlands and Islands” portal which has already proved a hit at showcase events such as the Black Isle Show.

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project is part of the Inverness Castle redevelopment supported by the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, a £315m investment 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.

Related: Tain showcase for immersive Spirit of the Highlands tour

Stagecoach has been announced as sponsor of the VR headsets as part of a schools engagement initiative reaching rural areas across the region.

The ‘On the road’ tour, will see Stagecoach bringing the VR headsets to schools in Rossshire, Argyll and the Isles, Caithness, Badenoch and Strathspey throughout autumn.

Many school pupils will be used to gaming with their own VR headsets. However, using immersive 360-degree filming technology, the project will allow pupils to be taken on a journey across land, sea and air to actual places across the Highlands and Islands, far from the imaginary worlds of Minecraft, Half-Life and Beat Saber they may be used to.

David Beaton, managing director for Stagecoach Highlands, said “This is a fantastic project for us to be involved in. Being able to bring this technology to rural schools who might not otherwise have the opportunity to ever use them in an educational environment, is great .”

Highland Council’s education chairman, Cllr John Finlayson, said: “It is great to see Highland pupils in rural areas getting the opportunity to use VR headsets and especially now when they have received positive press and a high profile nationally. The geography of the Highlands and the profile of our many rural educational settings means that inclusive initiatives like this are really appreciated.”

The next stop for the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands immersive portal will be in the Collegiate Church, Tain from September 22-24 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.

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