Project Mobius: Edify
University of Glasgow researchers from the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience, Fiona Macpherson and Neil McDonnell produced a body of research into the features and benefits of Virtual Reality Experiences (VREs), resulting in the creation of Project Mobius and Edify. Partnering with VR and AR content/platform specialists Sublime Digital, the Innovate UK funded project (Cost £911,713, Grant: £716,743) has proven instrumental to remote and online learning environments.
Objectives of the projects
UofG-led research has focused on how VR can be fruitfully utilised in teaching and learning environments. VR enables access to places that are impossible to go (e.g., because of danger, scale, distance), and activities that are impossible to do (e.g., because of the laws of physics), without the cost or consequences. A key insight of this research is that VR offers the opportunity for genuine perceptual experience, learning and skills acquisition, which Macpherson and McDonnell began to investigate in connection with the challenges for Higher Education teaching, inspiring a longstanding collaboration with industry tech specialists.
For any given learning task, we can ask: how do students learn? How could they learn better? The emerging technologies of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) can enable new and an unparalleled depth and richness of data about how learners behave, and how they learn, across an extraordinary range of subjects. As these technologies take hold, they offer opportunities to advance the state-of-the-art in creating new learning experiences, the resulting data from which can be used to develop new approaches to teaching to the benefit of the learning experience of students quite generally.
The project aims to put the UK at the centre of this new tech revolution, by developing the platform - edify - and tools that enable educators at Higher Education Institutions across the globe to harness the power of this learning data, and drive innovation in higher education. Given the expertise and experience of UofG researchers and Sublime Digital, this partnership is uniquely placed to set the standard in the education sector and control the Mobius platform. With the help of innovation centre The Data Lab, that platform could transform learning globally.
Both Project Mobius and Edify have contributed greatly to the integration of VR technology in the learning environment. The projects have had a lasting impact, revolutionising learning for students in higher education, especially in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Project Mobius began with the creation of ten 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, and the ideas behind them were selected from dozens of entries into a VR Teaching Competition held at the University in 2017. Geology, Data Science, Anatomy, Immunology, Philosophy, History, Physics, Chemistry and Physiology are all represented in this initial tranche of exemplar teaching interventions.
Developed to innovate the teaching and learning sector, Project Mobius produced the teaching platform, Edify. Edify is a platform that allows users to employ the powers of VR technology and create a space where teachers and learners can connect and collaborate in a virtual reality. Edify uses VR tech to simplify complex concepts and improve the learning experience for users.
Specifically, Edify combines gaming tech, virtual reality and user generated content to enable accessible, immersive and engaging educational experiences. It allows teachers, academics and training professionals to create virtual lessons from a library of subject-specific 3D content, use VR to deliver hands-on remote teaching where students use their own devices, and teach immersive labs via Teams and Zoom.