Over the last 12 months we have implemented the use of the technology funded by the Karten Charitable Trust. There have been some clear successes and some challenges, particularly because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Construction/Transportation Virtual Simulator
Over 50 young people had an opportunity to use the forklift truck module on the simulator. This has been used as a break-out activity when having IT lessons, on a rotational basis. What has been very powerful is seeing those most disaffected students, who don’t usually engage in technology, get excited about using the fork lift simulator.
We have worked closely with Tenstar Simulations in keeping the software updated and ensured the machine is maintained. To ensure the device is being used as a pathway on to further progress we have made links with Mantra Learning around the ‘Pathway to
Apprenticeship’. This was part of the ‘next steps’ approach for those young people who demonstrated an interest in driving forklift trucks. So far, we haven’t enrolled anyone on the course with Mantra Learning due to progress being hampered with COVID. Once we are able to be back on site, and move across bubbles more, we will hopefully develop the technology further and enrol students with Mantra Learning.
ClassVR, Oculus VR and 360 Camera technology
Just before lockdown we were still in the exploration phase of VR. We used VR headsets in 4 different ways:
ExploreVR – Using the Google Earth VR app and the Oculus Rift equipment to take students to places they could never have imagined visiting. We have had huge engagement with this project where students have been on a rota to visit places around the world, visiting places like San Francisco, Rome, Paris, New York or even Wembley Stadium!
What has been incredible is the immersive reality that the technology brings whereby students have been excited to feel like they’ve travelled far and wide when many have never stepped out of the local town. We spent some time creating video tutorials as the experience is a solitary one and as we introduced new students to the technology we wanted to guide them through it which worked really well.
TransitionVR – Another exciting development was the use of the 360 cameras and the ClassVR headsets to support transition from college to the workplace. We started the project by filming footage at the RSPCA and Atrium Cafe where we had work placements ready for students.
This allowed students to feel less anxious before their placement by using the headsets within the classroom and taking a tour of the building virtually.
We only managed the one transition before the first lockdown happened but we are keen to explore further when we return.
CurriculumVR – The other opportunity we explored is the use of VR
headsets supporting the learning experience. This has involved visiting the
Titanic, seeing the pyramids and moving through our solar system. The 360
experience has really brought alive some of the different curriculum we offer our young people.
RelaxVR – Some of our more complex learners have been using the ClassVR and OculusGo headsets as ways to relax when in a state of heightened anxiety. We have had several cases where students have been exhibiting challenging behaviour and the use of the headset has helped them to calm. Its remarkable what a swim with Dolphins can achieve!
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