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Global showcase for immersive learning technology

2b Telford College VR

Cutting-edge technology being used to train the next generation of healthcare professionals at Telford College is to be showcased at an international conference in America.

The virtual reality software, which simulates health and social care environments, will feature in a panel debate at the SXSW EDU Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, from March 4-7.

The event is described as a global showcase of technology and best practice to ‘help create a new tomorrow for learners everywhere’.

The software has been created in partnership with the college by experience design experts Inizio Engage XD and has won multiple awards, including recognition at the Learning Technologies Awards in the ‘best use of simulations or virtual environments for learning’ category.

Inizio Engage XD has been invited to host a panel discussion at the SXSW EDU event exploring the use of immersive learning to ‘rehearse challenging moments’ in a safe and supportive environment.

Caroline Bastow, Telford College’s head of quality and learning, teaching and assessment, will join Inizio Engage XD duo Tom French and Andy Walker, and Stewart Riddle from the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System on the panel.

“Imagine if the team on Apollo 11 had been able to rehearse the moon landings in Extended Reality in 1969,” the panelists say. “Not just the practical tasks, but the emotional challenge of being in such an unfamiliar landscape.

“We want to explore the use of immersive learning to rehearse challenging moments. By entering worlds where there are no distractions, anything is possible and you can experience difficult emotions and discuss them with learning leaders.”

Caroline added: “We can’t wait to share details about this VR experience, which is already having a real impact on students.”

Janet Stephens, Telford College’s deputy chief executive, added: “For us it’s a game-changer when it comes to bridging the gap between theory and practice, especially when it can be difficult to get ‘real-life’ placements.

“The VR experience really is the wow factor – the start of every teaching programme, which can prepare students emotionally like nothing else.’’

Andy Walker, senior creative at Inizio Engage XD, said: “We’re really excited to be bringing our perspective on the power of VR to boost emotional resilience to SXSW EDU.

“To share the potential of VR in learning with the leading global educators is a fantastic opportunity – we’re looking forward to an interactive and fun session.”

Speaking on behalf of the Integrated Care System, Simon Whitehouse, chief executive officer for NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, said: “We have been privileged to be part of the development of this innovative and exciting new way of learning.

“Not only does this offer more opportunities for students to get the experience they need for a successful career in health and care, but it also demonstrates a real commitment locally to grow and develop the very best people to meet the needs of our population in the future.”

The SXSW EDU events bring together keynote speakers, panel debates, performances and film screenings.

They have a track record for attracting globally-recognised names, from entertainment legends such as Oprah Winfrey to Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former US president Bill Clinton.

Organisers say the aim is to provide attendees with ’valuable insights, inspiration, and actionable takeaways to drive positive change in education’.