Virtual reality project wins bronze at Reimagine Education awards

A virtual reality experiential education project led by Dr Christian Schott from Wellington School of Business and Government has won the bronze award in the Oceania section of the QS Reimagine Education awards.

Christian Schott receives award at Reimagine Education Awards.

The QS Reimagine Education awards, known as the ‘Oscars’ of Education’, celebrate innovative approaches that enhance student learning outcomes and employability. This year saw 1518 innovators representing educational technology companies, universities and education-focused NGOs from 84 countries submit their projects for the awards.

The winning project by Dr Schott and his team uses gaming software and virtual reality technology to foster contextualised experiential learning about sustainability and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“The project is driven by the need for critical and creative thinking to address the pressing challenges of sustainability and climate change, and importantly to provide our students with meaningful and effective learning about these issues,” says Dr Schott.

Dr Schott worked with a multidisciplinary team which included digital designer Alan Proctor-Thomson (Burnt Pixel), Associate Professor Stephen Marshall (Centre for Academic Development), Dr Andrea Milligan (Faculty of Education), Maciu Raivoka (Centre for Lifelong Learning), Jonathan Flutey (Centre for Academic Development), other University staff, and the communities of Yasawa Island (Fiji) and Machu Picchu Pueblo (Peru) to create sustainability-focused virtual field trips to communities in Fiji and Peru.

Students experience the places and their communities through HTC Vive Pro VR headsets or a computer monitor to allow them to explore the place as if they were there.

“Current teaching methods generally don’t allow students to experience the crucial social and cultural contexts of a place in a meaningful way” says Dr Schott. “In response, this project embraced situated experiential education and virtual reality technology to both immerse learners in a meaningful ‘case study’ and to cater to a wider range of learning preferences than the commonly fostered auditory and reading/writing types of learning.

“It is wonderful to receive this recognition from such a highly respected international awards body and I am grateful to the team for their great work over the many years that the project has been going from strength to strength.

“I would also like to thank the Latin America CAPE for funding the application of the concept for VR situated experiential education to the famous town of Machu Picchu Pueblo in 2019.”

Dr Schott’s project is just one example of the Wellington School of Business and Government’s efforts to utilise technology to enhance education. This year the Business School began offering digital exams and is also continuing to make more lectures available online for students.