How students return to school this year is hardly universal. Some schools are remaining closed, others are going remote, and for many some combination of the two approaches will be used to manage education and distancing. Lenovo is offering resources to help.
Many teachers and students got their first taste of distance learning at the end of last year and hoped that this autumn would be back to business as usual. Mastering distance learning requires the right tech and the technical know-how.
Recently announced Lenovo hardware, software updates, and industry partnerships provide both.
Enter the VR Classroom
Lenovo’s VR Classroom is a package powered by the company’s XR arm, ThinkReality. The original launch of the platform in 2018 met success before the renewed interest in distance and remote learning brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We developed the VR Classroom for a situation where you could set up remote learning,” Lenovo’s Director of Global Education Solutions, Rich Henderson said in a video interview with ARPost. “We’re looking for curriculum-based content modeling so VR is more than just a game or a gimmick.”
Currently in its second generation, VR Classroom consists of content management software and curriculum-mapped experiences, preloaded onto a Lenovo Mirage VRS3 headset. Experiences also work in WebXR so that students without access to a headset aren’t left behind.
“What we’re really focusing on since coronavirus is making sure that the teachers are able to employ the solution whether their students are in school or not,” said Henderson.
That includes dedicated support teams for the VR Classroom. This support helps instructors navigate hardware use, as well as upload content that can be shared with entire educational institutions.
Educators have the ability to start simultaneous casts to entire classes in real-time, or to record sessions in advance for asynchronous sessions. A dashboard compares each user’s progress with curriculum content for easy assessment.
“We developed this as a kit because we feel that, with these emerging technologies, it helps for our customers to see our solutions as a kit rather than as something that they need to put together themselves,” said Henderson.
VR Classroom 2 is available in a K-12 package as well as in a lighter and more flexible higher education option that delivers the same basic solution and support but with less pre-packaged content.
While Lenovo is proud to offer the hardware and ThinkReality is happy to offer the support, one of the strengths of VR Classroom 2 comes from collaboration with content providers.
“We’re partnering our technology with great content providers to help schools continue their learning outcomes during this challenging time,” said Henderson.
Results of these partnerships include a collection of STEM modules and virtual tours by Veative Labs, career exploration platform VICTAR, access to the first “virtual reserve” from Wild Immersion, and organizational support from LanSchool and Exploros.
Going Back to School in XR
This year’s return to school will be a first for students and educators alike. While the students may adapt to new technologies more quickly than their educators, Lenovo’s VR Classroom 2 promises to deliver the content and support to make distanced learning manageable and memorable.