Pixar co-founder teleported live into a virtual classroom with students in Slough

Today, the boring classroom lesson finally gets consigned to the history books when technology pioneers, Immersive VR Education, beam experts from California and Dubai into a virtual classroom to teach students at Langley College near Slough, via a short trip to the moon.

Pixar co-founder, Loren Carpenter, will be ‘beamed’ in to the virtual reality (VR) classroom live from the US so that IT and gaming students at Langley College, part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, can learn from one of the founding fathers of computer programming for animation and film.

David Whelan, CEO of Immersive VR Education, says, “This is a pivotal moment in the history of learning. ENGAGE allows students to not only experience the environment they are learning about in virtual reality, but have the best teachers from around the globe join them in a virtual classroom.”

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The Pixar animation guru and Oscar winner will be joined by Dubai-based teacher and VR pioneer, Steve Bambury. Steve, from the Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS Dubai), will take students on a VR journey from Slough to the moon and then to an ancient stone circle in Wiltshire so they can experience the transformative power of VR on a lesson.

The technology behind the lesson is ENGAGE from VR boundary breakers, Immersive VR Education. It is a free to use virtual reality teaching platform for schools, universities and businesses that allows them to create a virtual classroom to bring together teachers and learners from anywhere in the world.

The ENGAGE platform will be running on HTC Vive’s VR technology and the recently launched HTC Vive Pro, allowing up to 10 students to simultaneously take part in the lesson. Virtual avatars will represent participants, enabling them to see and interact with one another and the teachers.

Pixar co-founder, Loren Carpenter said: "Through virtual reality, we can create a fabulous distributed classroom where anyone in the world with the internet can access a classroom and teaching. We can examine concepts that are difficult to recreate in other ways. Students can experience what it is like at the top of Everest or get inside a locomotive to see how it works up close."

As well as discussing his past work with Lucasfilm and Pixar, students at the event will also hear about some of Loren’s boundary pushing work in the field of mind-matter interactions from the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, where he is currently a visiting scholar.

Christian Long, the gaming teacher and champion of VR technology for the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, who created the event for his students by bringing together some of the leading lights in the global VR industry said, “It is said we only retain 30% of what we hear, but 90% of what we experience. It’s why we can often remember our childhood holidays vividly, but not many of our school lessons. VR is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging students and helping them experience what they learn, so the lesson is never lost. When we can then add the best teachers from across the globe into the mix, the impact we can have on our pupils’ ability to learn will be phenomenal.”

Dave Haynes, director, Vive X Europe said, “HTC Vive technology is providing a fantastic opportunity to revolutionise approaches within the education sector, and make quality teaching more accessible and engaging. It’s great to see Vive being used in a real-life classroom environment at the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, and we are thrilled to support the ENGAGE platform as organisations adopt Vive for use both in schools and for distance learning applications.”

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