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Extended reality and the future of education

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The regular Experiences in Digital Learning webinars from the Centre for Online and Distance Education and the University of London Institute in Paris provide the opportunity to explore the rapid innovations and changes we are seeing in digital learning, teaching and assessment.

Our next Experience in Digital Learning webinar takes place on Thursday 22 September 2022 at 14.00 BST. In this webinar we will consider the ways in which AR and VR will impact future learning.

Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly utilised in education and training and we see developments in the use of Augmented Reality (AR). Our panellists will illustrate the ways in which VR and AR are being used in an increasingly wide range of contexts. They will discuss the ways teaching and learning strategies are adapting to ensure learners, such as surgeons  and engineers can gain highly valuable skills and competencies in simulated environments. This will be an opportunity for the panel and audience to consider the ways in which VR will impact future learning. 


A panel of distinguished speakers will lead the discussion and engage with other participants to address these questions, led by Dr Tim Gore OBE, CEO of the University of London Institute in Paris. The panellists are:

  • Professor Claire Smith NTF, PFHEA, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor Education and Innovation and Head of Anatomy, University of Sussex
  • Professor Jag Dhanda BSc(Hons), MFDSRCS(Eng), FRCS(OMFS), PhD, Consultant Maxillofacial/Head Neck Surgeon. Queen Victoria Hospital. East Grinstead, Honorary Clinical Professor of Surgery, Brighton and Sussex Medical School and CEO Virtual Reality in Medicine and Surgery.
  • Dr Thierry Koscielniak, Chief Digital Officer at the Conservatoire national des Arts et Métiers in Paris (Le Cnam). Le Cnam is the only public Higher Education institution dedicated to lifelong learning in France and is therefore deeply involved in distance online courses. The Cnam National Digital Office @LeCnamDN1 is in charge of the implementation of courses digitalization and MOOC production. As an expert in EdTech in Higher Education, he keeps a technological watch and carries out research on digital learning and currently on the pedagogical uses of virtual reality and augmented reality. 

Presentation summaries

Professor Claire Smith 

Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly utilised in education and training. In exploring the technology, we have identified that 360 video in virtual reality (VR) format has greatest utility in providing training for complex scenarios such as surgical techniques and simulation training. True VR is completely digitally created but can be costly and time consuming, although it allows greater scope for interaction and competency assessment. Virtual Reality in Medicine and Surgery (VRiMs) is developing and validating VR for common applications such as basic life support and fire awareness mandatory training. We are also exploring Augmented reality and metaverse applications for aiding clinical decision making, diagnostics and surgical training.

Dr Thierry Koscielniak

At Cnam a team of teachers and instructional designers launched an immersive Digital Twin of our Chemistry Lab using Virtual Reality in 2020. Cnam's lifelong learners undertake VR practical work to discover the lab, learn about security issues and perform ultimately technical activities. This unique solution tackles the problem of distance learning for practical subjects. Dr. T Koscielniak will discuss the approaches taken to manage a project that spans Chemistry Higher Ed professors, instructional designers with VR development skills and VR engineers from a French VR development company. 

A strategic point of view will place this project in the current trend of the Metaverse emergence: what are the issues for higher education institutions? An academic Metaverse is emerging in front of our eyes: Metaversities are already in place in US and Europe. What about the French touch? A collective work on « La Métaversité » will be unveiled.

This work is funded by Le Cnam, Région Ile de France and is part of the JENII project funded by ANR (Angence Nationale de la Recherche). JENII is the French acronym for : Immersive and Interactive Digital Twin for Education.