University of Glasgow leads on investigation on immersive learning and education
The University of Glasgow has today officially launched a project, supported by Meta, to study the benefits immersive technologies can bring to education.
A team led by Dr Neil McDonnell are to examine the practical and operational considerations of using immersive technologies like extended reality (XR)* in education including teacher capacity and classroom deployment practicalities.
The research is generously supported by a gift from Meta’s Immersive Learning Fund, which was announced today, allowing researchers to remain independent whilst working on the project.
The announcement follows a recent survey by XR Association (XRA) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) which found that over two-thirds (67%) of educators hope that immersive technologies will be used regularly in schools and 77% believe in the power of extended reality to ignite curiosity and engagement in class.
The research will inform a White Paper, due to be published in summer 2023, which will summarise these considerations with a view to informing policy makers and funders of where the research gaps exist, and what areas of policy might require consideration.
The University has a vast and hard-won understanding of the operational and logistical challenges of deploying XR teaching. Academics will be drawing on their experience of developing the edify platform which is used in Higher Education, in comprehensive secondary contexts, remote rural school deployments, and primary classrooms. The academics, using pioneering facilities at the Advanced Research Centre (ARC), have been blending teaching, learning and research with XR technologies – many of which came into their own during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The White Paper will examine the practical and operational considerations of using XR in education in the UK given issues including available funding, teacher bandwidth, and classroom deployment practicalities.
Dr Neil McDonnell, Senior Lecturer and XR Education Project Lead at the University of Glasgow, said: “We think that XR has the potential to give teachers magical powers and it is our ambition to catalyse the responsible adoption of these technologies in education.
“To do this we must first understand where and how it can best be deployed for educational gain, and what barriers there are for adoption by teachers and students. We aim to articulate a roadmap for users, developers, manufacturers, and policy makers which can help bring XR tools to education as safely and effectively as possible.”
Meta is focused on building an ecosystem to support learning in the metaverse. This includes empowering the next generation of AR/VR creators, transforming the way we learn through high-quality immersive experiences and increasing access to education through technology.
Nick Clegg, President, Global Affairs at Meta, said: “For most of us, learning is social – we learn from and with others, and from each other’s experiences. That’s why the unique feeling of presence and immersion these technologies create can be so transformative for education. Partnerships like this with experts from University of Glasgow will help us understand how teachers and students can get the best out of these technologies.”
*Extended reality (XR) is a universal term inclusive to immersive technologies virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).
The University of Glasgow Surveying Extended Educational Realities (SEER) Group is led by Dr Neil McDonnell, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Important core team members from Glasgow will include education specialists Dr Gabriella Rodolico (education) and Dr Lavinia Hirsu (education) and Postdoctoral Researchers Sarune Savickaite (Psychology) and Lysette Chapronniere (Philosophy). The team have extensive hands-on experience with XR in education contexts.
University of Glasgow ARC XR
The ARC XR (Advance Research Centre Extended Reality) is a cutting-edge collection of resources and studio space. Focusing on research and applications of Extended Reality (XR) – the space will bring together researchers and students from across the University to work in collaboration with external partners to develop world leading research and explore new opportunities arising from visualisation technology. Learn more HERE.
Meta Immersive Learning
Meta is focused on building an ecosystem to support learning in the metaverse. This includes empowering the next generation of AR/VR creators, transforming the way we learn through high-quality immersive experiences and increasing access to education through technology. Learn more HERE.
Project Mobius and Edify
Project Mobius began with the creation of 10 VR applications, each of which designed to enable a teaching intervention that is simply not possible without immersive technology. These apps spanned all four colleges of the University of Glasgow. The next stage of Project Mobius was to develop the underlying platform to support a diverse range of applications, and which could be implemented practically across higher education. The resulting platform is edify which launched commercially in 2020. The platform will be continually expanded to host an ever-broader range of environments, objects, and tools for teachers to extend beyond the limits of traditional teaching. A further 10 exemplars have been funded. Learn more HERE.
First published: 12 April 2023