SERC Students Test Virtual Reality Technology

0 min read

25 May 2023

Level 3 Supporting Teaching and Learning experienced virtual reality technology.

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) students from the Level 3 Supporting Teaching and Learning Course at the college’s Bangor campus, recently took part in testing a pilot virtual reality software, designed by the professional development company, Propeer Solutions. The company are using their expertise in the fields of Immersive Technologies, 3D Art, Motion Capture, and web technology to develop a virtual reality training package for those studying to become classroom assistants.

The pilot project is in collaboration between Propeer Solutions, experienced practitioners in education, including Marie McAlinden (SERC Curriculum Manager, Training and Development in the School Hospitality Management Tourism and Languages- HMTL), school SENCO’s, classroom assistants, and Queen’s University Behavioural Unit, to ensure that these technologies are developed to have a maximum benefit for users.

Chris Thomas, Director of Propeer Solutions, and Dr Nichola Booth, Behavioural Analyst, Queen’s University Belfast, recently visited the Bangor campus to begin testing the technology and gather feedback to inform the next stage of the project.

The project involved the students wearing VR headsets to experience a busy virtual classroom in the form of 360° videos, which included observation, interaction, and feedback stages. The students began by identifying issues and risks in the classroom, similar to a Hazard Awareness course in a driving test, followed by interacting with pupils experiencing various behavioural issues by asking them questions. Based on their choices in both the observation and interaction stages, this influenced the outcome of the programme, and students were provided with instant feedback.

The benefits of the project include: students beginning to develop both strategies and confidence in dealing with complex behavioural issues, staff being able to easily maintain the progress of students through various reports, automated assessments, and group work tasks, and senior staff using various reporting tools to assess the progress of the class, Quality Assurance with staff members and the ability to automate reports for assess.   

Marie McAlinden, SERC Curriculum Manager, Training and Development in HMTL, commented, “During the project, the students experienced different classroom interactions with the aim of supporting classroom delivery, while enabling them to experience what might happen in a typical classroom. The technology virtually creates the daily challenges that are faced in the classroom in a controlled environment, allowing the user to feel safe, practice techniques, and view failure as a way to positively gain experience.”

Dr Nichola Booth, Behavioural Analyst, Queen’s University Belfast, said, “This project has the potential to allow SERC students to experience low level behaviours that they may experience in a classroom setting in a safe, controlled manner. By providing practical solutions to identified issues, the potential to take this learning from VR to ‘real life’ is huge.”

Chris Thomas, Director of Propeer Solutions commented, “We received amazing feedback from the students of Bangor SERC, and it was fantastic to show new ways of learning by placing students in real life scenarios where they feel safe and have time to work through various strategies in dealing with complex behaviours within the daily life of a classroom. The next stage of the project following this pilot will be to continue to refine the training package for maximum impact.”

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