Nottingham University Opens Virtual Reality Classroom

The classroom allows lecturers and students to engage in remote viewing and communication

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Published: February 22, 2024

James Stephen

Nottingham University has created a virtual reality (VR) classroom that enables remote viewing and communication between lecturers and students.

The students set to use the new classroom setup will be the university’s second year of Product Design and Manufacture.

A top 20 UK university and eighth in the UK for research power, Nottingham University believes the classroom “revolutionises the teaching of VR software”.

Professor Joel Segal, Head of Mechanical Materials and Manufacturing Engineering (M3) in the Faculty of Engineering, commented on the new VR classroom:

“While many universities, including us, have existing VR labs, these are nowhere near the scale of our newly unveiled facilities, which will provide our students with access to cutting edge tools and technologies unlike anything else on offer across the globe.

“We have a desire to be at the forefront of technology in teaching and we’ve already been making strides in this area in recent years in our smaller VR labs.

“Now, however, we have the opportunity to take the lead in the UK and further build our reputation for producing engineers that are ready to shape the real world.

The classroom has 40 high quality VR headsets. Of these, 35 are connected to PCs, with the remaining five using traditional desk-based systems and display screens.

The university is also making 90 wireless headsets available for students to loan that can be used from anywhere, enabling them to continue their studies beyond the classroom.

Both staff and students will also be able to access 360 stereoscopic cameras and 3D scanners.

When the classroom is not being used to experience and study VR, the headsets can be raised to the ceiling, allowing for it to be used for other purposes.

There are also plans to use its VR facilities for real time collaboration with international campuses as it has a ‘Ningbo’ campus that has its own VR lab, allowing students to work together across the world.

Professor Sam Kingman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering, revealed further plans for the classroom: “The virtual reality classroom is an incredibly exciting addition to our teaching facilities as we continue to position ourselves at the forefront of VR teaching.

“We believe that great minds don’t think alike, which is why we want to provide our students with a truly unique experience.

“We’ll also be working to create custom environments and objects that are suitable for teaching a range of engineering and architecture subjects as we widen our remit in the coming years to allow students from other courses access to the VR classroom.”

The Faculty of Engineering

Nottingham University’s Faculty of Engineering has more than 5,600 students and 800 staff and consists of six departments, including electrical and electronic engineering, chemical and environmental engineering, foundation engineering and physical sciences, and more.

The 140-year old faculty was the first to receive an Athena SWAN Gold Award for gender equality and research. It also recently opened the £40 million Power Electronics and Machines Centre.

With research a fundamental part of the faculty’s work, it has 20 research groups undertaking sustainable future projects, with over 20 countries having benefitted so far.

The research has also helped three governments and 500 companies, as well as creating jobs for roughly 3,000 people around the world.



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