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Heartland Community College

Heartland receives grant for Virtual Reality instruction

February 23, 2024

Heartland Community College has been awarded $73,000 to support Virtual Reality (VR) instruction in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. 

The funding is part of $766,000 awarded to twelve Illinois community colleges by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), to help implement virtual reality equipment into existing Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the state.  

Grant funds will be used to expand the existing VR program at Heartland, particularly in the areas of Nursing and Welding programs. 

The grant funding will allow the purchase of additional simulations and career exploration software. With the upgrade, the College will increase the number of simulations that can be run and also be used to create two mobile VR labs for HCC Pontiac and Lincoln campuses. 

“The Illinois Community College System is constantly looking to stay at the forefront of workforce development. This funding will not only help recruit students who want access to the latest technology but also provide new cutting-edge training opportunities to better position them for success in their chosen career fields,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham. 

The College previously received funding from the Heartland Community College Foundation to purchase 40 Oculus headsets and have been used in Nursing programs with SimX healthcare simulation software to help students practice important communication and procedural skills in a safe, controlled environment. 

“We have already had success in our nursing program using VR and I am excited to bring this immersive instructional technology to more students,” said Kate Herald Browne, Director, Online Learning and Instructional Technologies. “The power of VR is that it fosters curiosity, imagination, and innovation. When students can see themselves in a future career or experience part of the world that might not be possible otherwise, it sparks their motivation to learn more.” 

The two-year grant program was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pritzker in FY24. Individual grant amounts were awarded based on college program and equipment needs.

Written by: Steve Fast