Coming to a classroom near you… Virtual Reality (or simply VR), the immersive learning experience that enables students to see, feel, and smell the past! Sound a bit futuristic? Well, VR is here to stay. Various incarnations have been used in films, medicine, science, art, leisure, and now it’s making its way into schools.
Dinosaurs in the Wild is a new time-travelling educational adventure that whisks visitors back 67 million years to an incredible research station, TimeBase 67, where they come face-to-face with living dinosaurs. Dr Darren Naish - zoologist, author and illustrator - explains how the show uses the most recent discoveries in palaeontology to create a truly immersive experience for Primary school pupils.
Despite all the educational changes that have happened since I started teaching History just under a decade ago, one thing has remained a constant. Source analysis is the hardest component for students to understand. This is part of my ‘why’ in that I do not remember any lesson in Secondary, A-level or degree that asked me to develop my ability to use sources. This may be me being incredibly disingenuous, and I am sure that any ability I have is not divined or been bestowed by anything other than practice. It may just have not been made as obvious to me it is now. Nevertheless I have constantly looked for ways to make source analysis more engaging, purposeful and develop the skills for students to engage in a real critique of sources.
With many of the new specifications and examinations focussing on a greater volume of content, the challenge for some teachers is how to engage students and ensure deep learning. This is especially the case when curriculum time constraints play their role. One method to support deep learning, as well as engage lower ability, SEND or hard-to-reach students, can be using immersive and experiential learning experiences. This can be achieved using a variety of methods, taking into consideration practicalities and preparation time.
Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) is bringing history to life through its schools’ programme, designed to excite and inspire teachers and pupils through high quality learning experiences. HRP look after six major palaces in the UK, including the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace. The schools’ programme welcomes school visits from all over the world, helping students to explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.
So many out-of-school experiences are beyond school budgets, time and availability. However, these experiences provide significant benefits; such as enhanced engagement, motivation, understanding, knowledge retention and personal development. For pupils, school is more than just gaining an education, it is also the source for developing life skills and life-time memories. Although hugely beneficial, simple off-site trips can be a challenge. Immersive teaching through Gener8 spaces offers a great year-round solution which complements outdoor experiences, to enhance learning outcomes.
The creators behind new immersive live-action adventure Dinosaurs in the Wild have given educators a sneak preview of the extraordinary sets and special effects that will officially open to the public in June.
The most dreaded date in the diary: the Class Assembly. When I see a note in my diary (underlined three times) reminding me ‘Two weeks until Class Assembly’, something inside me dies. 30 children stood in rows, performing songs or poetry or skits. Parents sat on rickety chairs, transfixed as their darlings (each one a future Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling) perform their two painstakingly memorised lines. Each assembly on a different topic: with a different year group, different group of children. Each assembly however feels very similar. 30 children stood in rows, benches, songs, poetry, skits, etc etc.
On Wednesday last week I sat in an innovation symposium with a Virtual Reality headset on. I was then strapped into a sports seat mirroring one that one would find in a modern racing car. The helpful assistant informed me that when the program begins I might find the 360°, fully immersive experience slightly disorientating. Being a son of a digital revolution that for me began with the Amstrad CPC 464, I dismissed his comment with an arrogance that these days is usually demonstrated by someone located in an office that is oval shaped. How dare he think that I would find the experience disorientating? He has clearly never played Manic Miner!