Beyond Boundaries: New Saddle River Day Center for Technology & Computer Science (CTCS)  Explores Global Virtual Reality Learning Environments

Beyond Boundaries: New Saddle River Day Center for Technology & Computer Science (CTCS)  Explores Global Virtual Reality Learning Environments
Gretchen Lee

Typically, when someone references a classroom, we imagine, at the very least, a physical space with walls, windows, a ceiling, desks, and an instructor. But classrooms aren’t what they used to be and at Saddle River Day School, the newest classroom can only be found in a virtual reality headset. 

The inaugural Virtual Reality Classroom is the first initiative of our new Center for Technology & Computer Science (CTCS), headed by Dr. Kevin Merges, SRDS’s Chief Global Impact Officer. Dr. Merges has been at Saddle River Day School since July 2023, and has over 25 years of experience working with and for independent schools. His work over the last decade has focused on revenue generating programs and international projects. At SRDS his responsibilities include identifying and cultivating international partnerships with compatible institutions around the world. Saddle River Day School’s first partner school is with the American EduGlobal Schools in India. Plans are under way to share curriculum and educators in a way that is beneficial to current and future students. There will also eventually be reciprocal study opportunities for students from both schools.  

However, for students who don’t want to travel back and forth, or for students for whom travel isn’t possible, the development of virtual reality classrooms will enable students to have access to online courses taught by a wide range of instructors with expertise that is both diverse and comprehensive. The Center for Technology & Computer Science at SRDS, supported by AI teaching assistants, will enable students to have flexibility around when and how they access these courses. So, if students in the U.S. want to attend a class taught by an expert in their chosen area of study who happens to reside across the globe, affording them opportunities to travel to remote locations like UNESCO World Heritage sites or the ancient forums of Rome, they will no longer have to set their alarm clocks or discover a fondness for coffee in order to access that content. Rather, they will find everything they need in their VR headsets. Science labs can also be taken to another level because unlike in an actual lab, in virtual reality, students will have the option of conducting experiments involving higher risk where clean-up is a breeze with the reset button and no students will be harmed in the implementation of these experiments.

In addition to these VR classroom and AI opportunities, the development of a robust Center for Technology & Computer Science will also enable instructors to identify areas for growth, as well as remain at the forefront of emerging technologies and new competencies. Course offerings such as Python, Quantitative Finance, Data Science, Natural Language Processing, Web Application Development, Quantum Computing and Game Development fulfill the SRDS mission to integrate technology in ways that support the highest academic, aesthetic, and behavioral standards, and to develop students into leaders and innovators, guiding them to use AI and other new technologies in ways that are ethical and responsible.