16 Oct

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Mr Bright has had a very exciting day.. 

Hi everyone! I am currently at the NatSpec TechAbility conference in Coventry. Lots of interesting technology here but the main area I am interested in is VR in Education. One particular workshop, run by Dr Nigel Newbutt, highlights how exciting this technology is. Although it is ‘old’ technology, the last 12 months have seen a massive increase in developers investing in VR within education. This has also resulted in educators becoming more interested in VR..

Nigel completed a study with VR in Autism (you can find out more about it here). Some pupils’ views included:

  • It makes me feel calm and relaxed
  • I can see what the world looks like
  • I can get used to places I might go to soon

So far schools have just been ‘dabbling’ with VR. However, I feel this is still early days and I know New Bridge can be at the forefront of making use of this technology to aid delivery of the curriculum, improve lifelong skills and help transition to next steps. We just need to be more strategic in our approach rather than simply ‘dabbling’ with it.

I am currently researching lots of platforms and plan to run some pilot projects across the New Bridge Group over the coming weeks. Once we have evaluated the pilot project and how to make best use of this technology, we can come up with an effective strategy to implement VR to help our young people achieve their outcomes. The two platforms which I have looked at so far are:

Oculus Rift VR

  • High performance PC required to perate
  • Outstanding headset positional tracking
  • Primarily a gaming device
  • Most expensive of VR headsets
  • Limited curriculum content
  • No classroom management controls

ClassVR

  • Low cost simultaneous system including a wealth of VR experiences
  • Complete classroom management tool to pause, play and mute experiences
  • Over 800 curriculum resources and links to content across the world.
  • Create/share own content
  • Ability to use the huge range of YouTube VR content

Learning with immersive 360 experiences – how might it look in the classroom?

  • Help stimulate speaking and listening
  • Enhance real life experiences
  • Ignite the imagination
  • Improve writing skills/story telling after an experience
  • Place learning in context
  • Increase engagement to provide deeper learning
  • Increase retention
  • Develop empathy with others
  • Create and design virtual spaces
  • Share and explore other pupil-created work
  • Prepare for transition to new class, school, travel, integrate into the community or work placements
  • Used for a coping mechanism, calm spaces, safe places, relaxation
  • Take people to places they’d never be able to go
  • Get pupils accustomed to unfamiliar environments
  • Develop fine and gross motor skills
  • Learn trade skills like operating a forklift truck, bulldozers, or even prepare for how to drive a car

The list could go on and on. What’s also great is that research is showing VR is extremely motivating and engaging.

Take a look at a couple of samples of VR 360 experiences that are online. The videos look much better if you click on the YouTube icon at the bottom of each clip and watch them there – if you are using a personal device, move it around to get a taste of the 360 experience..

These are engaging but there is so much more to explore – very exciting times ahead!!

We’re delighted to have Nigel’s permission to share his presentation from today’s conference with you here:

Virtual Reality and Autism – Nigel Newbutt, University of the West of England

We’re also really looking forward to welcoming Nigel to the Group to find out more about his work – we hope to be sharing news of his visit with you soon!