In recent years, more-and-more universities, colleges and schools have been investigating virtual, augmented, or mixed reality for their teaching and research. And many of them have been going a step further and incorporating shared immersive spaces into their on-campus facilities.
These kinds of spaces offer all the benefits of using immersive technology in education – safely simulating dangerous situations, conducting virtual field trips, improving the retention of learning – in a way that shares the content with whole groups at a time.
This kind of technology has been around for longer than you might think: in fact, back in 2014, the University of Brighton was the first university in the world to install a shared immersive space powered by Igloo Vision’s technology.
Igloo installed a 210° curved screen that acts as a simulator used to research reaction times and decision-making in sport-related situations. By using digital media to immerse participants in unfamiliar surroundings, psychological effects can also be assessed. Read more on this here.
There are plenty of insights to be had from using this kind of technology for so long, that any educational institution exploring immersive spaces can learn from.
- In a large immersive space, you don’t necessarily need VR headsets to interact with the content – these spaces remove the constraints of a headset, multiple people can get involved, and even physical props can be used too.
- Content is getting easier to create and access all the time – 360° cameras are coming down in price, there are growing libraries of stock content. In addition, an Igloo immersive space integrates with game engines, everyday digital tools, and more, so that all sorts of content can be accessed in a shared immersive space.
- Intuitive interaction is a cornerstone of Igloo Vision spaces, with tools such as a user-friendly home screen that make it easy to access content.
- Students located off-campus can get involved with immersive video conferencing solutions too.
- An immersive space can be made even more immersive by bringing in sound, smells, floor vibration, smoke machines, etc., to create the most realistic simulations.
- Students can be transported on virtual field trips, by using integrated tools such as Google Street View, giving them access to places they might never visit otherwise.
- Shared immersive spaces can enhance not only learning outcomes, but also self-confidence, memory, engagement, creativity and empathy, encouraging cohesion and mutual understanding within groups of students.
- This kind of immersive technology could revolutionise teaching – giving students ways to experience locations and situations they might never get the opportunity to otherwise, and providing more dynamic methods of teaching and learning.
- As more-and-more universities and educational institutions implement this kind of technology, there’s an ever-growing community to share ideas and learnings with, leading to ever-more innovations.
- And as that community grows, more-and-more frameworks for immersive teaching are becoming available. In fact, even The New York Times has created a guide to using its 360° VR videos as part of a lesson plan.
- While there may be issues around external copyrighted content, or content not being totally in-line with teaching aims, the increasing ease of creating your own content can combat this.
- One shared immersive space can be used to share immersive content with entire classes without the need for multiple head-mounted devices. An Igloo shared immersive space is scalable and flexible and can be specified to meet any institution’s needs.
- Content that’s created in-house is, naturally, cheaper than sourcing externally, and can also form a bank of reusable content to be used in course for years to come.
- There are costs associated with the installation of the space itself, along with investment needed to upskill staff. Igloo provides comprehensive support contracts and aftercare to ensure clients get the most out of their immersive installations. Additionally, Igloo works closely with educational institutions to help specify the most appropriate and most cost-effective solution.