In 2011 the founders of Simvirtua built the technology stack that powered the Virtual Reality education platform MissionV (a project of MissionV Education Ltd., which was supported by the Irish Department of Education and Skills). Here follows a reproduction of the independent research evaluation of that platform published in 2012
Dr. Conor Galvin of the UCD School of Education and Lifelong learning was asked to provide a research assessment of the MissionV pilot programme and its impact. That report will be published in October but in the meantime Dr. Galvin and his Research Associate, Ms Isobel Burke, have published a 6 page note outlining their key findings.
The full document can be downloaded in PDF Format we’d like to highlight, below, some sections that we found of particular interest –
# [Teachers] observed that students’ understanding was deeper and their retention of the information encountered through the Virtual World environment [of MissionV] was – in their view – markedly better.
# Teachers in the pilot schools also reported that their students’ engagement with tasks continued beyond the school day, with children at all four schools choosing, where possible, to spend time at home refining creations and solving problems online.
# The pilot sites evidenced clearly what may be termed a “new culture of learning” among project teachers. That is, a working environment emerged around MissionV activity that was rich in creativity, as well as skill- and meaning-building.
# The schools also offered accounts of students previously lacking in confidence in their maths skills who became self-assured technology experts through MissionV and of shy students ‘coming out of their shells’.
# The MissionV pilot project created unique conditions for students to peer teach. Pilot site teachers reported their strong belief that through teaching each others, their students deepened their own understanding and reinforced their belief in their ability to succeed, which positively affects self-confidence.
# [MissionV] provided cooperative learning opportunities for group work and peer teaching and also fostered learning community within the classroom. Such intuitive cooperative learning behaviours have been documented by researchers in other settings and the power of this model.
# MissionV has been used successfully with gifted children, learners with special needs and with different learning styles – and with impressive results according to the teachers in the pilot schools.
# Because of the ability it offers to communicate and collaborate with others, MissionV also provides a platform for the creation and sharing of open educational resources.
# MissionV offers interesting valuable insights into how the contextualised learning of simple programming and principled design activity can be incorporated meaningfully into learning activity at the primary level.
# MissionV represented not just an opportunity to use technology to teach better but also the start of a professional discussion around how Ireland can begin revisioning core elements of our education system to meet more effectively the learning requirements of young people facing a radically changing world.