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July 15, 2020

Use Cases in Immersive Technology: Education

Immersive technologies have the power to engage, enrich learning experiences and increase retention of knowledge and improve understanding. This makes virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences fantastic tools for education from primary school through to higher education and beyond across a broad range of subjects.

From curriculum-focused, school-based virtual reality content, through to playful augmented reality educational apps that can be enjoyed outside the classroom with family and friends, there’s some great lessons to be learned by the inspirational immersive experiences that are leading the way in innovative approaches to education.

Immersive technologies and education are a match made in heaven.

Beyond the school gates: classroom-based immersive education content

There is a growing amount of immersive educational content available targeted specifically for classroom use. These cover a broad range of subjects – from science and technology through to history, geography and arts related areas. Tech giants, Google, have developed Google Expeditions, an immersive app with over 1,000 VR experiences that give teachers and students the chance to journey to far flung places beyond the classroom without actually leaving it. Its AR library also brings 3D objects into the classroom space, helping to bring abstract objects such as tornados or beehives to life, to increase engagement and understanding.

Companies and social enterprises such as ClassVR, Viarama and Unimersiv bring immersive content to schools at a grassroots level, supporting schools not only with content, with hardware, lesson plans and training support for teachers.

Other curriculum-based initiatives have been developed to bridge the gap between academic learning and practical experience, to help to prepare students for their potential future careers.  For example, A Class Of Your Own has developed an accredited programme for 11-18 year olds. Design Engineer Construct® (DEC) encourages learning in context for working in design and engineering in the construction industry. This includes bringing the site to the classroom through VR. By giving students the chance to gain hands-on, practical experiences of real life working situations (but in a safe environment), students are able to get inspired and gain an understanding of the realities of working in the construction sector.

Immersive technology has the capability to blend with real-world learning

Beyond the classroom: Learning through play

Many educational immersive projects aren’t developed with the curriculum in mind. A great example of an educational tool that crosses formal and informal education is Curiscope’s Virtuali-Tee. It inspires children to learn through play by combining a smart T-shirt with a mixed reality-based app that works together to teach human anatomy.

The T-shirt has a cryptic digital rib cage design, which is the gateway to exploring the workings of the body by using either augmented or virtual reality. When it’s viewed against the T-shirt, the app opens up the insides of a photo-realistic and 3D animated body.

By combining tech with suggested lesson plans and factsheets that are compatible with the National Curriculum in the UK, Virtuali-Tee highlights how immersive technology can blend with real-world learning. It provides a space for shared experience with peers which is central to any great learning experience – as well as support for teachers, who need to be comfortable and confident in using the tech in order to fully embrace innovation.

Interactive immersive experiences can be for a broad, young, and not necessarily digitally-savvy audience. Although it can be experienced with a VR headset, it is also designed as an AR experience that works with both Android and iOS smartphones, as well as tablets. For classroom use, the app can also be connected to a TV, projector or whiteboard. As such, hardware becomes less of a barrier to adoption.

For businesses looking to innovate in the education and learning sector, this also highlights how educational immersive products and services can be scalable. Virtuali-Tee is available in more than 100 countries across the world; and isn’t just restricted to use in schools, as it is also promoted and distributed to a broader consumer market.

The Future for Immersive Technology in Education

Immersive technologies and education are a match made in heaven. We are on the cusp of an exciting new phase in connecting with and inspiring students to learn. By giving students the chance to experience new worlds, explore unreachable places and provide visual context for abstract concepts, VR, AR and XR can make learning more playful and impactful by sparking curiosity in, and interactivity with the world around us.
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