With schools reopening across the UK this month, pupils in North Lanarkshire can now experience what it’s like to be in outer space, under the ocean, on a World War 1 battlefield or even on top of Everest – thanks to a new initiative which is the first of its kind in the UK.
Led by North Lanarkshire Council, BT and Interactive Immersive Classroom, the UK’s first 5G-enabled immersive classroom has arrived in Scotland.
The new immersive classroom has been developed within the Muirfield Centre in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, where a room has been transformed – using innovative technology – into an engaging and digital learning environment.
The 360-degree room creates a digital projection that uses all four classroom walls and the ceiling to bring the real-world into an immersive experience for students. The concept aims to push beyond traditional methods of teaching to create an inclusive digital experience that helps explain abstract and challenging concepts through a 3D model. It will also have the potential to support students with learning difficulties in developing imagination, creative and critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
BT has deployed its 5G Rapid Site solution to support 5G innovation and digital transformation of UK’s education sector. The solution is made possible through the EE 5G network which brings ultrafast speeds and enhanced reliability to classrooms now, and into the future. With the greater bandwidth that the solution provides, students and teachers can livestream virtually from any location with minimal disruption and connect many more devices than on previous networks. This means students can still enjoy a rich learning experience and not be disadvantaged by their location or by the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pupils at Carbrain Primary School, Cumbernauld, were the first to dive into the new experience with an underwater lesson about the ocean.
A student from Cabrain Primary also said his favourite part was seeing the Northern Lights, a subject he studied at school: “I loved the colours, it was as if I were seeing them in real life!”. Another student enjoyed the Safari experience, saying: “It was so cool to see the animals so close up.”
“The immersive classroom allows us to break free of the traditional classroom boundaries,” explained Councillor Frank McNally, Convener of Education and Families with North Lanarkshire Council.
“Its potential uses really are limitless and we hope that it can be used to engage pupils who are perhaps turned-off by traditional learning experiences as well as by local community groups such as historical societies.
“This project shows that North Lanarkshire is at the cutting edge in terms of technology and connectivity and demonstrates our commitment to providing our pupils with outstanding learning opportunities.”
The interactive experience is multifaceted and can be used for school learning, college and university workshops, corporate training workshops, gym classes, and tourism, meaning it can be applied to all learners for all ages, and be deployed across many industries in the UK.
Rob Shuter, CEO of BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “By harnessing the power of 5G, we’ve been able to help transform education for students in North Lanarkshire. We know that technology can help to make education richer and more accessible for young people. This is vital for both students and teachers; a blended learning approach can engage and support pupils better than traditional methods only. We’re really excited to be partnering with the Council to use our ultrafast 5G network to provide a UK-first in education.
“Our Skills for Tomorrow programme aims to give 10 million people and businesses the skills they need to thrive in a digital world. We’ll continue to deliver innovative solutions like this right across the UK, to help build better public services for customers and our society.”