AIM & OVERVIEW
tGF wanted to explore how far technology could be used to support developing countries to leapfrog traditional and often imperfect educational models. In partnership with Brighton-based VR company, Future Visual, we worked to develop two demo virtual reality (VR) apps to take with us to Tanzania and gauge reactions there.
App 1: an interactive app that teaches English to Swahili speakers and Swahili to English speakers.
App 2: a non-interactive Maths app, aimed at teaching basic concepts of fractions to primary school-aged children.
It was a high-octane, fast-paced project—moving from idea to app in a little over six weeks.
We managed to get feedback from educators and children during the ideation and design process. The design quality of both apps was impressive given the amount of time available
to develop them and served as a testament to the expertise of the Future Visual team. Children and adults alike, in the UK and Tanzania, were impressed by them—transported to different worlds. As a team, we got to grips with what it takes to develop advanced tech content with a pedagogical aim.
VR is most effective when it is used for educational purposes, to train people in skills that would otherwise be very cost-intensive to do in real life, e.g. aerospace engineering,
ophthalmology, and other high-tech industries. For classrooms, a lot of learning occurs through the teacher’s engagement with students, and the students’ engagement with each other. Therefore, technology, especially, technology that could isolate students into lone learners needs to be managed carefully. VR has a role in education in developing countries particularly where focused on improving teacher training and professional development. VR does not yet have the distribution and penetration needed to support students directly in significant numbers.
We have uploaded the Space Fractions app to YouTube so that anyone with a VR headset and an internet connection can experience it for free.