FFHS researchers pilot virtual reality application LAVIR in South Africa

Dr Ivan Moser and Dr Martin Hlosta from IFeL travelled to Johannesburg to join the LAVIR project workshop. The workshop was organised together with the colleagues from The University of Johannesburg (UJ). LAVIR, funded by Unity Social Impact and Meta Immersive Learning, focuses on developing a Virtual Reality (VR) application to improve the pre-service teacher program in science education.

The VR application provides a platform for pre-service teachers to practise their teaching using microlessons, i.e, short teaching sequences delivered in a safe environment as well as training them to use VR environments effectively for teaching, by becoming familiar with VR technology integration in the classroom. In addition, the VR application collects rich sources of various data collated in a Learning Analytics Dashboard, which aims to augment the feedback that pre-service teachers usually get both from their educators and their peers. This includes insights into students' engagement, interaction, communication and movement within the virtual environment.

The platform has been developed in the last couple of months with the collaboration with XR Bootcamp. The workshop's objective was to deploy microlessons considering the specific South African educational contexts, taking into account the region's technological challenges. A notable example is the disruption caused by frequent electricity outages, commonly referred to as load-shedding. 


The workshop not only propelled the LAVIR project closer to live piloting, but also strengthened collaboration between the research groups and institutions involved. The workshop facilitated the introduction of the VR microlesson platform to colleagues in UJ's teaching department, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.

LAVIR is now entering the last phase of the development before the live piloting of the first cohort of UJ science pre-service teachers starting in September. Alongside the LAVIR project, the groups from FFHS and UJ are engaged in a 3-year NRF/SNF funded project named SAMBA.


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