Live VR classroom has Pixar co-founder ‘beamed’ in

The classroom, attended by students in Slough, was host to Pixar’s Loren Carpenter via the ENGAGE platform

The boring classroom lesson has finally been consigned to the history books, as experts from California and Dubai were beamed into a virtual classroom to teach students at Langley College near Slough, via a short trip to the moon. 

Pixar co-founder, Loren Carpenter, was ‘beamed’ in to the virtual reality (VR) classroom live from the US so that IT and gaming students at Langley College, part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, could learn from one of the founding fathers of computer programming for animation and film.

David Whelan, CEO of Immersive VR Education, the company that provided the tech for the lesson, said: “This is a pivotal moment in the history of learning. ENGAGE allows students to not only experience the environment they are learning about in virtual reality, but have the best teachers from around the globe join them in a virtual classroom.” 

The Pixar animation guru and Oscar winner was joined by Dubai-based teacher and VR pioneer, Steve Bambury. Steve, from the Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS Dubai), took students on a VR journey from Slough to the moon and then to an ancient stone circle in Wiltshire so they could experience the transformative power of VR on a lesson.

Through virtual reality, we can create a fabulous distributed classroom where anyone in the world with the internet can access a classroom and teaching. – Loren Carpenter, Co-founder, Pixar

The technology behind the lesson is ENGAGE from VR company, Immersive VR Education. It is a free-to-use virtual reality teaching platform for schools, universities and businesses that allows them to create a virtual classroom to bring together teachers and learners from anywhere in the world. 

Pixar co-founder, Loren Carpenter said: “Through virtual reality, we can create a fabulous distributed classroom where anyone in the world with the internet can access a classroom and teaching. We can examine concepts that are difficult to recreate in other ways. Students can experience what it is like at the top of Everest or get inside a locomotive to see how it works up close.” 

As well as discussing his past work with Lucasfilm and Pixar, students at the event also heard about some of Loren’s boundary-pushing work in the field of mind-matter interactions from the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, where he is currently a visiting scholar.

Christian Long, the gaming teacher and champion of VR technology for the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, who created the event for his students by bringing together some of the leading lights in the global VR industry said: “It is said we only retain 30% of what we hear, but 90% of what we experience. It’s why we can often remember our childhood holidays vividly, but not many of our school lessons. VR is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging students and helping them experience what they learn, so the lesson is never lost. When we can then add the best teachers from across the globe into the mix, the impact we can have on our pupils’ ability to learn will be phenomenal.” 

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