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VR Project Supporting Students across the UK


In a time where students are more restricted than ever with the technology they use, some UK Universities are trialling VR (virtual reality) as a tool to support their students in their academic journeys.


In a cross-Atlantic research project, launched this year by Carnegie Mellon University, 25 other universities (as well as 25 healthcare organisations) across the UK and US will be testing out new Bodyswaps VR headsets. One of these Universities is the University of Suffolk, which began the 6-month project, at the end of November.


The University will be using this technology to support their students in presentations and interview practice. The headsets will help their students in areas such as public speaking, communication, employability and job interview skills. The use of VR has allowed students to practice giving presentations, being interviewed for jobs, and even the idea of public speaking, without the pressure of having to do this in front of other people.


This has the potential to assist students struggling with anxiety or confidence, in a safe environment, and has already helped students identify poor communication behaviours, which has allowed them to grow in confidence when it comes to more complex situations they may find themselves in as they move into the working world.


Head of Careers, Employability and Enterprise at the University of Suffolk, Amy Carpenter, said: “Embracing VR technology has been a great way of developing the soft skills of our students who need more support and complements the wider advice and guidance our Careers and Enterprise team offers.


“We are beginning to embed this technology within our courses to provide professional development options, and we have already seen the transformative impacts it has on our students who have used the headsets.”


One of these students is a second-year BSc Computing Student, and Peterborough College Alumni, Conor O’Leary. In response to trying out this tech, Conor told his university: “I found using the Bodyswaps technology to be really useful and it has helped me hone my skills in presentations and interviews, which will be invaluable for the future. It’s really a bit of a blend of career support and new technology which I think works really well.”


Bringing this back to Inspire Education Group, when we asked Conor about how he thought this could impact the transition from FE to HE, he said: “It'd be nicer to go to a university that has those things and does it, knowing that those services are there is going to make students more comfortable when it comes to their future lives than going to a uni that doesn't.”


Speaking more generally, he added, “I think having the opportunity for students will make them more comfortable when it comes to leaving university or finding their career because it's very unique, it's very new.”


“it stands out so much more than say if you were taught from a presentation because it's so different to what you would normally get.”



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