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Virtual reality inspires Solihull College & University Centre students’ creative writing

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Solihull College & University Centre recently incorporated the use of Virtual Reality (VR) to develop students’ creative writing skills.

English Lecturer and Teaching & Learning Coach, Rachel Arnold, who is currently studying a Master of Education at the University of Cambridge, wanted to use an innovative method to support her GCSE English learners. Working with Computing & Emerging Technologies Lecturer, Simon Hunt, Rachel used the VR headsets to engage students, allowing them to immerse themselves in their writing tasks.

Rachel wanted to make the English lessons more accessible. She explains: “I wanted to break down barriers and use a medium they’re familiar with – quite a lot of the students play virtual reality games and I wanted to use their comfort zone to enable them to tap into other ideas.”

Initially the students played a team-building activity which familiarised them with the VR headsets. They then worked in pairs, the student wearing the headset verbally described what they could see to their partner who made notes. Afterwards, they wrote creatively about the experience. Rachel comments: “It felt more real for them, and their writing was more vivid and realistic as a result. The difference in quality after having done that activity was considerably better – they were really engaged and wanted to do more.”

Student Nathan Clayton said of the activity:

“This was such a fun way to actually describe, because I really felt like I was there and had lots more interesting things to write about. It also helped me write about how I was feeling because I was there.”

Rachel is constantly looking at methods to engage her students and centre their needs in her innovative learning activities. Last year she went to her students’ main vocational lessons where they taught her their skills such as plastering and mechanics.

She shares her main takeaway from the VR activity:

“I really recommend it as a productive and fun learning activity. The students were engaged, and as a result their creativity was enhanced by tapping into what they know and already enjoy. This brought the curriculum and their assessment to life.”

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