Last month saw new ground broken in the world of education when the first ever professional development event for educators took place inside virtual reality. Dubai-based educator Steve Bambury worked with award-winning virtual reality developers Immersive VR Education to host three sessions across June 15th and 16th. The sessions were delivered using the innovative Engage platform which runs on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift virtual reality systems. Educators without a Vive or Rift were also able to join the session directly from a PC.

Steve is Head of Digital Learning at the prestigious JESS Dubai schools. He is also an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. In 2014 he won the first GESS Award for Best Use of ICT for his work on the acclaimed iPad Educators website and then won the award again in 2016. Steve has been using VR in the classroom since late 2014 and has always been outspoken about it’s growing importance in education.

“I’m always looking for new ways to push education forwards,” said Steve. “VR will become more and more integral to education over the next decade and this type of PD will become more commonplace. It was exciting to be the first educator in the world to actually try and accomplish it.”

The event included educators from more than fifteen countries, including USA, UK, UAE, Spain, Turkey and New Zealand, who joined Steve in a virtual lecture theatre for a presentation about VR in Education. The presentation was structured around Steve’s model for VR in education which details four levels from Perception to Immersion. The model has become incredibly popular within the VR education community with hundreds of shares across social media and beyond.

This was then followed by a demonstration of some of the amazing features of Engage itself, including the insertion and manipulation of animated 3D models and some dramatic changes in the location. These included a trip under the sea and even a visit to Mars, with delegates donning spacesuits.

“Engage really is at the cutting edge of what is currently possible in VR,” explained Steve. “The fact that we were able to host teachers from across the globe, whilst I was running a presentation directly from OneDrive and also importing detailed 3D models really was remarkable.”

Founded in Ireland in 2014, Immersive VR Education have turned heads with applications like Titanic VR and the multi award-winning Apollo 11 VR. Engage is still in a beta stage at present but is already raising the bar for educational VR experiences with its broad depth of content and versatility. These sessions with Steve are allowing the company to field test the application more fully, with the team making adjustments and updates throughout the course of the two day event to ensure that users enjoyed the best possible experience.   

Plans are now in motion to deliver more of these sessions over the coming months with the next already scheduled for July 11th. For this session, Steve is trying something different again. It will take the form of a chat show with a panel of special guests form the world of VR education. Scheduled to join Steve are Jaime Donally from America who has just returned from presenting several VR themed sessions at ISTE and who hosts the popular #ARVRinEDU Twitter chats. Joining her is Chris Madsen AKA Deep Rifter. Chris, also from the United States is Director of VR for Morph3D and a long time VR innovator who was recently named as one of the top 100 VR influencers. The panel is completed by Dr Sana Farid from Bahrain – co-founder and CEO of Munfarid Consulting and VRXOne and one of the Middle East’s leading voices in VR education.

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