Virtual Reality (VR) can enhance educational experiences and is a powerful way to improve student engagement. Immersive spaces enhance this further, as they allow VR content to be experienced collaboratively, rather than through traditional VR headsets, which can be isolating, especially when used in educational settings.
The pupils’ faces tell the whole story! You can clearly see the expressions of joy on their faces as they participate in immersive experiences tailored to their lessons.
For years, much of the conversation around VR has been focused on the future potential of the technology. However, with Immersive Reality, the spaces can be used to enhance existing lessons – rather than just adding something completely new, they also enhance aspects of learning that children are already familiar with.
Immersive Reality in Action
A perfect example of Immersive Reality spaces in action is at West Lancs Community High School – the school’s headteacher, Lee, said that since using the room, the school has “seen a significant impact in the engagement of students, in particular those on personalised timetables for sessions linked to their personal learning goals.”
Pupils have visited outer space within science lessons, explored artworks in our virtual gallery, as well as travelled on virtual school trips, all within the immersive space!
They recently took part in a virtual school trip to France – from boarding the plane, to travelling on the underground tube, to walking through the city streets and finally ending the day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower!
This is especially beneficial for children who have never been on a plane or a train before – the immersive space allows them to get a feel of these experiences but in a safe and controlled way, preparing them for real life situations and teaching them key life skills.
“Outstanding is the only word to use.” -Lee Fazackerley, Headteacher at West Lancashire Community High School.
In an article about Immersive Reality within the Curriculum, Executive Headteacher Shazia Sarwar-Azim stated, “the files were organised in curriculum areas, making it easy for teachers to find, and later develop, content. Teachers were now planning how to use the scenes in their lessons to facilitate the learners in the development of enriching their knowledge base and practical experiences.”
“There were many different types of scenes to be explored in the immersive space. They were interactive, giving you several sensory experiences. For example, in Geography, focusing on the travel and tourism industry, children were encouraged to write brochures after they virtually visited the Serengeti. Within the scene, they identified and classified animals as well as plants. They designed merchandise (animal print t-shirts and caps) based around animal patterns. They even watched the sunset and camped underneath the stars as explorers.”
Educators can also design their own custom-made experiences to use within our spaces. West Lancs school is currently planning to record videos of a restaurant, and various places of interest ready for a local school trip. Many of their pupils, particularly those with autism, suffer from anxiety before visiting unknown places, and the use of specific, user-based content means that schools can show pupils those places before they visit them in real life.
Immersive Reality Best Practices
Within this article about using VR to enhance lessons, Erik Ofgang references Géraldine Fauville, and her tips for incorporating immersive technology into education.
Géraldine Fauville is an assistant professor of Education Communication and Learning at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. She says that educators looking to incorporate extended reality (which encompasses both virtual reality and augmented reality) should ask themselves these three questions:
- What are the learning goals?
It’s important to establish goals before taking lessons in an immersive space. Teachers should write down objectives for the class, and what they want their pupils to gain from spending time in the space.
For example, when teaching a science lesson in an immersive space, teachers could aim for the children to remember facts about planets in our solar system. Then, once the lesson has taken place, the teacher could prepare questions based on the content that the children have just experienced.
- Who are the learners?
“You need to make sure that the hardware and application are accessible to your learners,” Fauville says. “Is it age-appropriate, does the equipment fit in their hands, on their head?”
Within the original article, Fauville is specifically talking about virtual reality headsets. However, because immersive spaces are collaborative, the issues that come with headsets are eradicated, because our spaces can be used by almost anyone, regardless of their age or ability.
We have content that is appropriate for different key stage levels also, so it’s important for teachers to choose content that they feel is relevant for the age group that they will be teaching.
- What is the context?
“You don’t organise a learning activity the same way in a large classroom of high schoolers or in the library with young kids. It is important to make sure they will be safe, they won’t bump into each other or into furniture,” Fauville says. This is why immersive spaces are so beneficial – as they can be used for a multitude of different purposes, and for individuals of different age ranges and abilities.
Connecting the virtual experience to the lesson is essential – it’s important to make sure there’s educational value. The technology shouldn’t be a substitute, but rather an enhancement of what teachers are already doing.
Designed to inspire imaginations and shape senses, an immersive space is a valuable educational tool that allows pupils to experience learning in an accessible, inclusive and enhanced way.
If you’d like to find out more about Immersive Reality, contact us on +001 (866) 782 6063 or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!
You can also fill out our contact form here.