President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed a virtual reality program to help educators teach STEM skills to children in the U.S. The White House announced on Wednesday that it has awarded $15 million in grants to schools to “develop a virtual classroom” that teaches STEM.
The program will work with the Department of Education, which is developing the virtual classroom, and will “create an immersive environment where students can interact with each other, interact with a digital representation of a real-world teacher, and learn real-life teaching experiences.”
The virtual classroom will allow students to “see real teachers interact with real teachers, learn real teaching experiences, and interact with the teacher’s digital representation,” the White House said.
The proposed virtual classroom “will help teachers better understand and engage with the diverse learning challenges of our students, including how to teach the arts and sciences and how to create real-time interactive experiences,” the announcement reads.
“Teachers will have access to an interactive, virtual classroom where they can create interactive, real-size classrooms and teach students in real time,” it added.
The Department of Health and Human Services also announced on Tuesday that it would support the virtual learning platform for its children.
“In addition to developing an immersive classroom that can be used by children to explore real- world teaching, it is critical that schools have a virtual space where children can interact and collaborate to solve real- time challenges,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement.
“It is also critical that students have a safe, reliable, and secure way to access learning resources.
Virtual spaces should be designed to enable students to learn in real- life and not in a virtual or simulated environment.”
The program was announced by HHS Secretary Burwell and National Education Association President Mark Schmitt in a press conference at the White Senate.
The announcement came just days after Trump and Senate Democrats unveiled a new cybersecurity plan that includes a plan to invest $100 million to “modernize” the federal government’s IT infrastructure, including the federal workforce, to improve cybersecurity.
“We have to make sure we don’t lose the great innovations that have helped our country succeed, including our digital infrastructure,” Schmitt said.
“The Trump administration is looking at investing in the future of our digital workforce.”
The announcement comes just days before Congress is expected to vote on a $1.1 trillion spending package that is expected later this week.
“This is the beginning of an ambitious agenda that includes new investments in education, cybersecurity, and research and development, along with a series of other initiatives that are designed to strengthen our nation’s economy and our democracy,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in the statement.
Trump and congressional Democrats are pushing for a $15 minimum wage, a $50-an-hour minimum wage and expanded unemployment benefits to help low-income workers.