I very nearly allowed myself to describe the history of how I came to be experimenting with immersive projection, which very few of you would have thanked me for. I would have described the technical issues and the problems and all the geeky bits and you would’ve lost the will to live by the time we got to the exciting bit, and that is assuming that I had managed to keep awake myself!
Actually, I have only ever been interested in the exciting bits and the whole premise of this site is that you can have the exciting bits too. If you want to know the nuts and bolts stuff and the pitfalls etc, then please get in touch and I’ll happily fill in the gaps, but for now, I’ll just focus on how immersive projection has transformed the way I teach.
It is worth saying though that there is a debate that needs to happen about how vision in the use of IT is translated into innovative practice in the classroom. How does a teacher know what is possible vs how does a network manager or IT provider know what the curriculum needs? I consider myself to fall between both camps and pride myself that I can suggest, mediate and implement solutions that meet the needs and aspirations of the classroom, of which my journey into immersive projection is an example. But for now…
When we were designing our new school I wondered what the possibility of providing projection on three walls might be. The high-end solution shown in Fig.1 is generally well beyond the budget of most schools and usually reserved for exhibition purposes. I wondered if a lower-tech, cheaper and low maintenance solution might be possible. Our first experimental solution is featured in the video extract below (Fig.2) and was placed on a wall with windows which is not ideal, but, somewhat surprisingly, the bleed of light between the screens and gap between the screens (somewhat accentuated in the video) was credible. When engaged in a lesson these things did not seem to matter, or certainly not to the extent the high-end installers would have us believe. The first “rule” we discovered was that pupils “buy-in” to any scenario you set up.
Fig.2 Initial configuration.
The video in Fig.2 shows extracts filmed by the local press during a launch of an experimental Innovation Room prior to our new build and contains some footage of resources used in class. Obviously the reporter has problems capturing the full width of the presentation but there is enough seen to get the gist. The whole of the immersive presentation was placed on a single PowerPoint presentation. An extra wide template was produced for this that was one screen high and four screens wide.
- The first part, the fanfare and the space exploration, was produced for the launch ceremony using PowerPoint animation tools with imported images and clip art. This part of the presentation uses all four screens.
- The second part is a drama improvisation based on First World War trenches, again using four screens. Authentic WW1 audio, images and film were placed on the PowerPoint presentation to provide a stimulus for pupils.
- The end of the video uses two screen and contains specific scenes from “Oh What a Lovely War” timed to run concurrently.
Engagement with these resources is generally high. The use of the WW1 video was subsequently used by the English department who used the staged seating in the room to recreate trenches. They then submitted classes to the virtual onslaught then asked them to write a letter home before “going over the top”.
Since this time we have moved into a new school and have three immersive installation. I have posted videos of some of the resources we have subsequently developed below together with notes on their context and use. There is an obvious problem though in trying to present to you a video that is four screens wide. I have posted them to YouTube so they do appear as a letterbox. Please also bear in mind that these videos were exported from PowerPoint presentations which had videos embedded into them. As a consequence the videos play in full where in practise the teacher would control them, so you may need to skip forward here and there. I hope you will still be able to appreciate the content. I will extend this area to include links to the paper resources and lesson plans that accompany these presentations in the near future.
This recent presentation was used as a resource for year 11 Citizenship classes. The presentation provides discussion points to help pupils reflect on their approach to their own learning and preparation for their final exams. This is a good example of how the immersive screens can lead you through the lesson. In a traditional classroom PowerPoint slides are replaced over time. This format allows greater parts of the resources for each element to be presented at once which provokes a wider discussion where teachers and pupils can refer back to earlier elements.
Fig.3 Aspirations classroom presentation.
Gender Preference in Computer Games
The use of this presentation was observed during an inspection and resulted in a grading of “Outstanding” by the inspector. In fact the inspector commented that this was the first time he had ever awarded an Outstanding grading for any ICT lesson. The resource is a good example of how a presentation can provide the structure and timing for a lesson and be the focus for a range of activities.