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The Sheffield College pilots the use of virtual reality technology in national first

The Sheffield College has been awarded funding to trial the use of virtual reality technology and investigate its impact on student assessments.

Students from three curriculum areas – animal care, catering and construction – will take part in the one-year pilot project.

The College is the first further education college to receive funding from the NCFE’s Assessment Innovation Fund.

Students will use virtual reality headsets to practise and test their skills as part of the assessment process.

The project will also explore whether this new technology can provide students with more time to practise their skills and increase opportunities for constructive feedback.

Steve Spence, Teaching and Learning Innovator, The Sheffield College, said: “We are really excited to be part of this groundbreaking initiative and proud to be the first further education college in the UK to take part.

“We will be piloting virtual reality technology with a group of animal care, catering and construction students to enhance their learning and skills by creating content that immerses them in the world of the sectors they are studying.”

He added: “The research that we gather will help us understand how best to integrate virtual reality technology into the curriculum and innovate our approaches to assessment.

“We hope that our findings will also support colleagues across the further education sector in adopting and realising the benefits of new innovative approaches to teaching, learning and assessment, in this case, virtual reality technology.”

An educational charity and leader in vocational learning, NCFE is piloting new and innovative approaches to student assessment.

This includes testing out brand-new ideas and exploring the use of technology that meets the needs of learners and educators today.

The project at The Sheffield College began in April 2022 and lasts for 12 months. Two other organisations have also benefited from the latest round of the NCFE’s Assessment Innovation Fund.

The Really NEET Project in Rotherham is running a pilot that will test the effects of immersive and interactive story-based assessments.

The University of Newcastle in Australia bid to test the process of moving from a grade-based system to badges in courses.

Jessica Blakey, Head of Assessment Innovation, NCFE, said: “We are delighted to be awarding this funding to advance the models of assessment that will be available for learners of the future.”

She added: “The education landscape is diverging, and it is NCFE’s goal to be at the forefront of sector-leading advancements, which will create great change for education as we know it.

“I look forward to seeing the pilots of these three excellent organisations develop and encourage other organisations to apply for further rounds of funding so together, we can continue with this important work.” 

More details about the Assessment Innovation Fund projects are available on the NCFE website.

For more information about The Sheffield College, visit

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