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Learning to move to experiential models with tech

Recent reports have "really proved not only the efficacy of VR for learning, but also the return on investment students", delegates heard. Photo: Pixabay

There is a good body of research around learning experiences and VR that has formed over the last ten years, Davila explained

As part of the session a panel of experts discussed the latest innovations in tech-enabled learning and how institutions are using platforms to deliver successful outcomes for students. 

Dr Sara de Freitas, executive director of education at Wey Education PLC said that teaching and learning is likely to be more focused around experiences rather than curriculum. 

“The game is a really good metaphor for this… you play the level, go through different bits, you level up”

“How I see it is that we’ve moved through three centuries of development. So we’ve had the 19th century model of learning, which is really focused on age and stage, very curriculum-focused, peer-led, classroom-focused, text-based and physical,” she said. 

“As we moved into the 20th century, we started to look at learning in a slightly different way. So problem and project based learning came into the mix. Things became a bit more peer focused. 

“You could start to learn any time, any way, anywhere. Assessments were more formative and there was more focus around personalised learning, multimedia engagement and blended online,” de Freitas added. 

Moving into the 21st century model will be “a game changer” in the sense that learning models are not going to be so focused around curriculum, but around experiences. 

“I think we need almost quite a radical look at assessment as part of what we look at in terms of, this move from more curriculum-focused and knowledge-focused work to more experience-based approaches,” she said. 

“The game is a really good metaphor for this, because in a game, you play the level, you go through the different bits, you level up when you’ve completed that and you gather points and rewards as you go. 

“I think this is a much more positive psychology behind that type of assessment. And it’s much less about, you know, focusing on a particular bit of information you need to learn and much more about understanding and experiencing and interacting within an environment,” she added. 

 Technology is also being used to provide more engaging learning experiences for students, delegates heard.

Sara Davila, head of efficacy and learning at virtual reality platform for English language teaching Immerse, where student learn through the use of headset devices.

“[The device] concentrates all of their focus into a digital overlay that happens on top of the real world with immersive virtual reality. 

“Not only do you see things and experience them as real, you also have auditory sensation and other aspects that are designed into these devices that elicit a feeling of presence. So you feel entirely engaged inside of this virtual space. 

“With immersive virtual reality, this is something that we’ve really only been able to offer in the last five or six years as devices have become a little bit cheaper and a lot more accessible.”

Davila explained that there is a good body of research around learning experiences and VR that has formed over the last ten years. 

“We saw a report that was published earlier last year by PWC looking at how they use virtual reality in a training program for adults, specifically trying to understand, can we actually have an impact on learning if we’re using these virtual digital tools?”

She said this report was one of the first big studies that “really proved not only the efficacy of VR for learning, but also the return on investment students”. 

According to Davila the students who went through the virtual reality program learn faster and were able to apply the learnings that they experience in that virtual space more quickly. 

“So this gives us a lot of hope for the promise,” she added.

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