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Students in Lancashire able to travel the world without leaving their seat thanks to VR

Michael Garwood 1 December 2017

St Wilfrid’s Academy helps to enhance student learning, by immersing them into new lifelike 360° environments 

Imagine leaving a classroom with the feeling that you’ve just spent the past hour or so visiting another country, another time in history or even another planet. Well, thanks to the advancements in VR, that’s exactly the experience for students at St Wilfrid’s Academy school in Lancashire (UK).

The Academy, which serves the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen and parts of Pennine Lancashire, has invested in providing the technology to help enhance student learning in a more immersive, engaging and ultimately exciting environment.

“Ever since the emergence of virtual reality and accessibility of it through smartphones, I’ve been eager to use it in a classroom situation,” commented Nathan Ashman, lead teacher for new technologies (UK).”

ClassVR allows us to do is take students into another environment anywhere in the world. What’s great about it is that they can experience that environment in full 360

The school partnered with ClassVR, who are specialists in providing VR and AR educational technology and content for schools and students and of all ages.

The technology works by students each wearing a ‘standalone’ VR headset, which -when powered on – offers what it calls a ‘unique student-friendly interface’ along with gesture controls, embedded educational resources and ‘simple-to-use’ teacher controls.

For content, ClassVR comes complete with a huge range of pedagogically sound, engaging content along with structured lesson plans to help “spark the imagination of students”, which will leave them with “memories and experiences” that help visualise and understand even the most complex of educational subjects.

There are currently over 500 pre-made activities, instantly accessible and covering a huge range of topics and curriculum subject areas, with teachers able to add their own resources, such as 360 degree photos and videos they’ve taken themselves, and build their own engaging lesson plans.

Ashman added: “What ClassVR allows us to do is take students into another environment anywhere in the world. What’s great about it is that they can experience that environment in full 360, looking all around them so that they can imagine themselves actually being there. This has a huge impact on their retention of information and their learning experience because they are having a real experience while they’ve got the headsets on.”

Invaluable resource 

Gwen Rees, who is assistant principal at St Wilfrid’s, admitted she was sceptical at first about using ClassVR with her students but now sees it as an “invaluable resource” in the classroom.

“When Nathan came to me to ask about using ClassVR headsets with my students, my initial reaction was unease and worry. The idea of having these boys in a space with technology was quite daunting, I’m a bit of a technophobe myself and I was concerned about behavioural issues that could arise. It turned out that I didn’t need to worry. The boys were so engaged and excited about using this technology that there were no issues with behaviour.”

For more information the ClassVR website here where you can view the original case study.

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