29 June 2020

9 Business as Usual Uses for VR and AR in College Classrooms - Our take!

Saw an interesting looking article on "9 Amazing Uses for VR and AR in College Classrooms" on  Immersive Learning news the other day - although actually a retweet of a 2019 article. But reading it I was struck by how most of the uses they talk about are things that we've been doing for years.

So here's their Top 9 uses, and what we've done that's identical or close.

1) Grasping Concepts

When we built a virtual lab for the University of Leicester we also built 3D animations of what happens at  a molecular level. Students had found it hard to link the theory of a process with the mechanics of using the kit, and the combination of both really helped them to link and understand the two.

In another example a finance trainer we helped build for the University of Central Florida represented financial flows as tanks of water and piles of virtual money so as to better enable students to grasp more complex financial concepts.

2) Recreating Past Experiences for New Learners

Not one of ours but there was an awesome recreations of the WW1 trenches, augmented by the poetry of the war created by the University of Oxford back in the 2000s. We have though also used immersive 3D to recreate conversations between analysts and patients so that new learners can revisit these and actually sit in the virtual shoes of the analyst or patient.

3) Stagecraft for Theater Students

One of the first projects we got involved with was helping theatre educators at Coventry University make of us immersive 3D to teach stage craft and even create new cross-media pieces. There was also the wonderful Theatron project back in the 2000s that recreated a set of ancient theatres in order to better understand how they were used by staging virtual plays, and we did the Theatrebase project were we built Birmingham's Hippodrome Theatre and digitised a set of scenery from their archives to show how virtual environments could be used to both teach stagecraft but also to act as an interactive archives and to help plan and share stage sets between venues.

4) Virtual Reconstruction of History

With Bournemouth University and the National Trust we recreated Avebury Ring as part of an AHRC funded project and ran it for the summer at the visitors centre so that visitors could explore the Ring as it was 5000 years ago in VR - and without the village that has now been built in the middle of it!

5) Going on Space Walks

We've done the Apollo 11 Tranquility Base site 3 times now, in Second Life, Open Sim and now Trainingscapes. We've also done an exploration of the 67P comet and a whole Solar System explorer.

6) Reimagining the Future


Back in 2010 we built the new Library of Birmingham virtually (hence VLOB) for Birmingham City Council so they could use it to plan the new building and to engage with the public and later subcontractors. The multi-user space even had a magic carpet ride!

7) Practicing Clinical Care

We have done almost a dozen immersive 3D exercises for health and care workers, ranging from paramedics and urinalysis to end of life pathway care and hospitalised diabetic patients.

8) Hands-on Railroading

OK, hands-up, we've never built a virtual railroad - but we have done equipment operation simulations on things ranging from air conditioners to jet engines!

9) Feeling the Impact of Decisions

In the article this is actually about team-work and collaboration within virtual spaces. Whilst we have had some "fun" builds - for instance virtual snowballs for Christmas parties we're also really interested in how to use these spaces to discuss issues and approaches through tools like walk-maps and 3D post-it notes. The classic though has got to be the fire demo where if you choose the wrong extinguisher then the fire blows up in your face - and as seen from the image above your body flinches away exactly as it would do in real life!

So there you are, 9 business as usual use cases for immersive 3D and VR as far as we're concerned!

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