During 2017-18, Plumpton College explored effective ways to integrate immersive technologies into teaching, the 'Teaching with Virtual Reality' project. The Association of Colleges Beacon Awards commends practices which 'have demonstrated a high level of innovation, impact' and are 'sustainable'; and awarded the college the AoC Beacon Award for 'Effective Use of Technology in Further Education Award' 2018/19.
To showcase the research, the college published Teaching With Virtual Reality to showcase the case studies and emerging best practices, to encourage other colleges, trainers and institutions to include immersive technologies in their teaching.
The college completed the project as part of the Education & Training Foundation’s Outstanding Teaching Learning & Assessment programme, which works to improve and enhance the learning experience. The Association of Colleges suggests the project demonstrates an innovative mix of teacher-led collaborative research, and 'a new application of technology within vocational teaching'.
Involving both learners and staff members in the project ensured a large number of Further Education students have been positively impacted by the project. Plumpton also wanted to ensure that the project used teaching methods which have proven to be sustainable and replicable across the educational sector.
The greatest impact that the project had was within students who suffer from anxiety when attempting practical activities, or experiencing new learning environments. The virtual reality content provided a safe environment for students to experience new situations, and was found to improve engagement in lessons.
The learning hub Teaching With Virtual Reality made up the online learning resource site as part of the project, to act as a guide for other colleges and training institutions. The material on this hub consists of learning videos and case studies that can be used or viewed on virtual reality headsets, mobiles, as well as remotely through the college's virtual learning environment. The flexibility of the technology itself means that staff and students can both easily access the learning materials, and engage with the Virtual Hub in a way which best suits their teaching and learning styles.