School of Education Alumna Uses Virtual Reality to Educate Youth About Louisiana’s Vanishing Coast


School of Education alumna, Heather Stone, understands the importance of creating a connection to, the often intangible, classroom material and evoking a sense of responsibility and engagement in her students. That’s exactly what she did while creating lesson plans to educate K-12 students about Louisiana’s disappearing coast.

Stone, a LaDIA Fellow, is one of only 13 highly talented tenure track faculty selected from institutions of higher education in Louisiana to serve for a year’s term. The fellowship aims to select candidates who have a potential to develop innovative approaches to coastal research.

With limited opportunities for most children to experience the coast for themselves, Stone’s work brings it to the classroom. Harnessing new technology, she has created a 360-degree virtual reality experience in order for students to feel a deeper connection with the area.

“To save the coast, we have to know the coast,” Stone said. “Students who better understand the coast will grasp the issues and how they can help.”

Teaming up with the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe whose ancestral home is on Isle de Jean Charles, Stone found a tangible way for people to connect with her lessons.

Going through the virtual reality lessons, students experience a 100–year-oral history with tribal members along with drone footage of the island. Looking at the state of the land through an emotional context takes away the abstract land loss statistics and gives a face and a story to this pressing issue. Not only does Stone’s program create awareness but it also inspires the next generation of coastal stewards through a unique way of learning. 

Stone received her PhD from LSU in Curriculum and Instruction under the advising of Dr. Petra Hendry. Her program of study and research supports scholarship in the student development areas of theory, curriculum and instruction foundations and oral history. She also received her masters from the School of Education while serving as a graduate assistant for online program in higher education.

As a fellow, she is part of a supportive community who demonstrate leadership in solving Louisiana’s coastal crisis. The fellowship covers expenses for all accommodations, meals, training and field trips. Community engagement is a priority in this fellowship and over the course of the year fellows will talk with politicians, journalists, commercial fishermen, parish planners, indigenous tribes and other coastal residents. 

LaDIA Fellows Program

About SOE
The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Research, and Counseling, including two completely online master’s programs. SOE offers a range of professional and academic degree programs that focus on preparing students for careers in education, research, policy formation and implementation, as well as program oversight. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners, and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues. SOE is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education.  

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About CHSE
The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.

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