ClassVR for Universities

Is ClassVR suitable for university students? This is a question we hear a lot within the Avantis offices, so our latest blog will be investigating exactly how and why ClassVR works so well within a university setting.

As a teacher, one of the most interesting things I have discovered since working here at Avantis is the level of creativity with which educators from around the world have approached ClassVR. Teachers are often, by nature, a creative breed. We are used to building lessons from nothing and using whatever means necessary to light inspiring fires in young minds; however, when presented with new technology, we can often be sceptical.

Not, it seems, when it comes to Virtual and Augmented Reality.

Chris Bass, Educational Specialist

Chris Bass
Avantis Educational Specialist (UK)

One of the great things about the ClassVR is that it gives users freedom to apply their own creativity using a variety of tools. So, while teachers of younger students may find it useful to build their own playlists from our resource library, explore coral reefs, or even build a village in Minecraft , some of the most interesting developments have come from higher education institutions and universities.

Underwater VR Scene

For example, Dr Christina Kuhn from Oxford University has been doing some pioneering work using Augmented Reality to supplement her teaching of Ancient History at Lady Margaret Hall and the Oxford Classics Faculty. Using AR models as well as 360 images and videos, she gave humanities students a glimpse into the lives of gladiatorial combatants, explored the topography of Ancient Rome and examined ancient artefacts in a way that has never before been possible.

Students with ClassVR headsets
“[It was] an engaging and exciting opportunity, which provided a memorable and enhanced understanding of the atmosphere, political culture and ordinary life experience of Ancient Rome.”

The idea that we learn best from our own experiences is not a new one. Jean Piaget(1) popularised the theory of ‘constructivism’ that many teachers will undoubtedly remember from their training. Founded largely around Vygotsky’s(2) Social Development Theory, constructivism states that students will naturally attempt to assimilate new experiences with their current understanding of the world. If the two are not compatible, then the student will alter their current world view to fit with the new experience. This is the reason we provide students with a variety of engaging, interactive experiences as part of their education – by immersing them in the subject, we are ensuring they remember more of the material. It’s why we read texts aloud, conduct practical experiments and visit locations. With first-hand experience, we are learning to alter our world view, and this is invaluable at university level where the reading lists are vast, and the information is often complex.

For example, you may be trying to get your students to visualise what the Colosseum looks like despite many or all of them never having been to Rome. What is going to be more effective: explaining the scene based on a flat 2D image or short  video, or putting on a Virtual Reality headset and seeing it, indeed living it, for yourself? Because of the all-in-one design of the ClassVR headsets there are no wires needed and no computers to plug in to. Just pass out headsets, put them on and you’re ready to deliver your content.

Colosseum Image

This immersive, experiential learning is the reason we developed ClassVR. The ability to quickly and easily give learners a virtual learning experience not only adds immediate value to any lecture, but it also allows teachers and lecturers to help ensure the sessions that they deliver are cemented into a student’s long term memory as a first-hand experience.

I recently spoke with Fargoes Infotech, our partner in Malaysia, about the impact they are seeing for their ClassVR university sites. Kesava Raman from Fargoes had this to say:

“Technological or Multimedia oriented universities often have their own content developers, development units or Centre of Excellence (either internal or external) that contribute to the respective university and its faculties for syllabus based additional content. For example, ‘ They can use ClassVR to host their own content and manage it through one portal, which saves a lot of time when developing AR and VR content and allows them to push all of that content to multiple headsets simultaneously”.

When looking at using Virtual Reality for your university, it is important that you consider what you want your students to use the headsets for. As we have seen with Oxford University and countless other organisations worldwide, the educational benefit of being able to quickly and easily immerse your entire lecture in another point in History or give your group a realistic model of a rare artefact to examine is impossible to deny. However, when an organisation begins to create their own content is when ClassVR and the ClassVR Portal really begin to shine.

Imagine if you could record 360 footage from inside an Emergency Room to give trainee doctors a chance to experience it for themselves without leaving their lecture hall or give chemical engineering students complex molecular structures to examine and identify in Augmented Reality. Being able to use ClassVR to actually show students these things not only adds more depth to lectures but also improves knowledge retention through real experiences.

One of the other major appeals of the ClassVR solution to our University and Higher Education sites is the cost. We work with companies around the world to help us deliver VR and AR to as wide an audience as possible and from country to country we are seeing budgets squeezed and costs cut. So, for a university to be able to implement Virtual Reality it must be cost effective. That is why we have developed a system that can be implemented on a large scale for a fraction of the cost of hardwired Virtual Reality solutions. More information on pricing can be found here.

If you are part of a university and want to talk to us more about how ClassVR can impact your teaching then you can find us on Twitter, Facebook or go straight to our website. We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to work with our users, so we’d love to hear from you!