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Getting virtual

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Published: 19 June 2020

University of Sunderland in London students using VR headsets

Blerton Hyseni, Senior Lecturer/Programme Manager (Tourism and Hospitality) at the University of Sunderland in London, has been experimenting with Virtual Reality (VR) technology for tourism education since February 2020. He has been using ClassVR to plan, deliver and help encourage independent learning through VR technology. The students connect to a virtual learning environment, exploring videos, photos and interactive digital environments.

“VR learning is a new way of classroom teaching. It can be a tool for removing barriers that traditional teaching can’t overcome. For example, it’s one thing to talk about a tourist attraction. It’s another to take your students there virtually and let them explore the site for themselves.

The VR headsets allow our students to see and hear 3D environments. It replaces the physical world around them, replacing it with whatever we want to talk about. Lately, I’ve been using the technology in the classroom to show students how VR tourism is developing and how virtual tours can support tourist destinations through promotion and growing brands. We’ve visited Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and a desert in Africa, all from our classroom in South Quay.

There are a lot of benefits to using this tool. It’s a chance for students to learn in a more creative way. It’s even been shown that using VR had helped learners remember more information than if they had just been taught through traditional lectures.

 

I introduced ClassVR into teaching at the University to encourage more engagement through active learning. I wanted to find a way of tackling passive learning - when lecturers just speak to students. The research is showing that VR is helping students stay engaged. It’s a chance for our students to take a more active role in the way they learn. 

The future of VR in education looks bright. More immersive experiences will let students explore a wide range of virtual environments. I want to see them taking the lead, using their life experience to inform the virtual worlds we’re exploring. I see it as a complement to traditional learning methods, a way for students to thrive through their creativity and innovation.”

Blerton Hyseni is a lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Sunderland in London. He directs the academic teaching output of all Tourism, Hospitality and Events courses. If you are thinking about studying with Blerton, visit our course pages

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