11 Oct 2018

Top tips for implementing an Immersive Room

Top tips for implementing an Immersive Room

“Our use of technology is solution driven, not tech driven. Issues are identified and then as a team we find the best technological solution; with the end game of raising standards in mind all of the time”
In recent years Shireland Collegiate Academy has gained a reputation for effective use of technology to improve standards, innovative curriculum design and embedding new approaches to learning. The school’s Immersive Room showcases tools and tech that are creating immersive, scalable, project-based learning opportunities for students. You can read more in our latest article.

And just for us, Principal - Kirsty Tonks has provided her Top Tips for Implementing an Immersive Room and how to select and source the right technology for you and your school.

Implementing an Immersive Experience Room

  • Creating an immersive lesson is different to creating a regular class-based lesson. It’s much more like being a conductor of an orchestra or a film director. You are creating a learning experience that immerses the student - from visuals (still and moving) to sounds and smells. It’s like creating a sensory learning journey – from the moment they enter the room to the time that they leave.
  • The key is not to use the space as a massive desktop. At the moment there isn’t enough good quality content out there to use well in these types of environments without images stretching and the room just resorting to being a way of projecting images and videos off the internet onto the walls. Developing the skills of IT staff or Post 16 students who can get the best out of the room is worthwhile looking into.
  • When planning a lesson; always, always return to the main objective and outcomes of the lesson. There is a danger that creative souls could easily go off on a wild and wonderful path that may be fantastic to experience but doesn’t deliver the progress needed and keep the pace of learning at the forefront. 
  • Develop the vision of how you want to use this resource; from the type of experiences and lessons that will be delivered to the outcomes and evaluating the impact on learning.
  • Consider how you ensure that this resource is shared and used by all and isn’t just hijacked by the ‘keenies’ and ‘innovators’. All learners deserve access to stimulating lessons in this space not just a few classes or year groups, so you need to plan how you are going to do this; timetabling and logistics are key for the inclusive use of such an investment.
  • Many see rooms such as these as a great way to start the lesson and indeed they can be a fabulous way of kicking off a new topic / theme, but Immersive rooms can be so much more than the ‘excite’ part at the start; it just takes a bit more time to think it through and scope it out.

Sourcing the technology

  • There are more and more companies offering to deliver immersive rooms in education but some are no more than a series of projectors connected to the internet. You have to think beyond the technology to how the rooms are going to be used and how the content for them is going to be created once the technology has been installed. Don’t buy until you can answer these questions.
  • Shop around for the right solution for you and don’t be intimidated to push back to companies so that you get something that is fit for purpose for your context and not just what they want to sell you. Find a company who want to realise your vision not theirs!

Where to go to Find the Right Solution

  • Bett is still THE place to go and find out what is out there in the educational technology space in the UK and although you can investigate online, if you are investing a decent amount of money on purchasing then seeing it in front of you is still the best way to do it. Then being able to compare it to other similar products on nearby stands means it is an easier way to make that Value for Money call.
  • For me though Bett has become as much about networking and catching up with people as about looking at the technology itself. Not being London based means that something like Bett gives us an opportunity to be in the same place as many people that we work with or have developed relationships over the years.
  • We tend to look at our school development plan to see where our priorities lie in the year ahead and this informs our potential shopping list and also who will attend (eg; Inclusion lead or Head of Maths or Assessment).

Who to Involve in Resourcing and Implementation?

  • Class teachers within the Shireland Trust still innovate and find new online software or APPS to use in their lesson, but most of the technology that has caused systemic improvement in our schools - and has helped to raise standards - tends to be identified more centrally, by an EdTech team of leaders; both from teaching and IT lead. 
  • Our use of technology is solution driven, not tech driven. Issues are identified and then as a team we find the best technological solution; with the end game of raising standards in mind all of the time.

Read more about how Shireland is using technology to ‘do the heavy lifting for staff’ in our latest article.

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