Dr. Neil McDonnell

6 tips to get your virtual lesson funded

Written By Dr. Neil McDonnell

From delivering a lecture inside the body to experimenting with COVID-19 in a virtual virology lab, edify helps students learn via experience through the power of immersive technology.  

Educators can share their subject across mobile, desktop and VR to:   

  • Deliver practicals remotely, for hands-on teaching. 

  • Teach complex subjects more effectively. 

  • Work in virtual labs to conduct challenging or costly experiments, on repeat.   

  • Improve the in-person learning experience. 

  • Remove the physical limitations of teaching, to go anywhere and do anything in virtual spaces.  

Edify combines VR with video conferencing to allow educators to share the power of virtual reality teaching - remotely - to students who have ordinary equipment. We call this VR by Proxy. 

With just over 1 week left to apply for funding at edify.ac/fundme, here are some top tips from edify’s team of product designers, developers and academics to help you shape your submission.  


#1 Think big!  

What if you could teach in a virtual world where the practical limitations of the physical world were removed? 

Could you take geophysicist students to the Earth's inner core and explore the dense centre of our planet? Could you teach meteorology from a virtual spacestation, or even take a 15-minute field trip to Peru’s Sacred Valley to study Inca ruins? 

edify allows educators to teach their subject in a three-dimensional space, also known as a computer-generated (CG) environment, so students can learn without the usual limits. 

Like special effects in Hollywood blockbusters, CG lets you create just about any environment to teach in, and do just about anything when you are there. The opportunities are endless.  


#2 Supercharge education with VR.  

Your lesson can be supercharged by the benefits of immersion but avoid creating VR for VR’s sake.  

Teaching in a 360° environment creates a greater sense of depth, in comparison with a diagram in a textbook or on a regular screen. It brings you the power of ‘being there’, virtually, so consider how your virtual lesson will be enhanced by presence and interaction.  

VR also allows for the safe, controlled, exploration of realistic scenarios which could not otherwise be experienced. This allows teachers to teach with rich and Illuminating context. 

If your idea isn’t using these advantages, then maybe VR is not the right technology to use.  


#3 Immersive & remote learning. 

When you put on a VR headset you remove yourself from the physical world around you, so the power of immersion can come at a cost: isolation. This trade-off works brilliantly for some uses, but less well for others. That’s why we’ve designed edify to offer a shared VR experience too, one that can be accessed across desktop and mobile, combined with video conferencing tools.  

Think about how your idea can support today’s need for a blended learning solution, and how it can expand our teaching horizons in the future.  


#4 VR headsets, haptics, and nausea. 

VR “motion-sickness” is diminishing as the hardware matures. However, it is still possible to disorientate and nauseate without careful design and consideration into how the user experiences movement in your lesson. You wouldn’t, for example, teach on a rollercoaster in the real world so why would you do it in VR? Take care with the movement your idea requires. 

Tactile and haptic feedback in VR remains basic. In a virtual lesson you can feel a vibration response, but it is not possible to physically feel the texture of a surface, such as the bark on a tree or a bone in the body. With this in mind, and considering that VR by Proxy is going to be a common mode of engagement, you should carefully consider how central haptic feedback is to your idea. 

Think about the length of your virtual lesson, too. Extended use can cause disorientation and so a 3-hour seminar is not the best use of this technology in the context of education. Target an intervention that can work within the bounds of a standard teaching hour. 


#5 Is it scalable? 

Can your virtual lessons be taught to 50+ students as opposed to an individual? Don’t limit the experience to one or two users.  

Ensure that your idea is scalable across your subject area, core to the curriculum and transformative as to how you and your peers teach.  

Make it efficient, remove unnecessary functionality, and ensure the 3D environment is relevant to the teaching outcome that you are aiming for.  


#6 A kernel of an idea 

200 words is all you need to apply.  

At this stage, edify is looking for ideas that set out to transform your teaching and the student experience. Whet the appetite with a kernel of an idea! We’ll collaborate with the shortlisted applicants to refine and expand the initial concept into a final pitch.  

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