VR PLATFORM LAUNCHED TO TRANSFORM LEARNING IN A SOCIALLY-DISTANCED WORLD

Students will soon be able to explore and learn in virtual environments from anywhere in the world with the launch of Edify (www.edify.ac), a new immersive learning platform.

Leading Scottish immersive technology company Sublime, in partnership with the University of Glasgow, has combined virtual reality learning and video conferencing to create Edify, helping to improve students’ remote teaching experience during the Covid-19 crisis.

The launch of Edify is the culmination of 2 years of development, with funding of over £2.5m since 2017, including from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. Around £1m of that total was secured during the lockdown to support an acceleration of launch plans.
Sublime was founded by Martin McDonnell, Chris Bryson and Jonathan Knox. The company already employs 22 staff and is currently looking to employ a further 10 this year to meet its growth plans.

Having piloted immersive teaching with the University of Glasgow, Sublime is now launching the Edify platform with ten apps designed by academics for academics, created and built by gamers, technologists and philosophers to augment and optimise learning.

The pilot apps cover all four of the university’s colleges, and include a 3D model of the heart and a tour of the stomach to a virtual geological tour of Arran and a replica disease diagnostics laboratory, allowing students to go beyond the lecture theatre to explore virtual worlds, learn in impossible and challenging environments, and bend the rules of reality.

Students, studying topics including physics, history and anatomy, will be able to dial-in to their instructor’s 3D Lab or classroom environment, without the need for VR hardware, via popular communications platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which have come into their own in recent months.

Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the provision of on-campus teaching for student populations, Edify provides crucial access to shared learning experiences as the academic world adapts to the challenges presented by Covid-19. 

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To mark the launch, Sublime is inviting Higher Education institutions to submit their ideas for 3D teaching environments on the Edify platform. The winners will have their environments funded and built for the upcoming academic year, with a selection of runners up selected as candidates for additional funding. Edify will also enable educators to generate and deploy their own teaching environments.
 
Martin McDonnell, CEO and Co-Founder of Sublime, said: "Sublime have been on an exciting Research & Development journey into realising the potential of immersive learning over the last two years, but the global pandemic has required us to respond dynamically to unprecedented disruption to teaching delivery worldwide - something felt keenly by our project partners, University of Glasgow. With Edify we will help address this challenge by enabling learning without limits through an immersive, online, and remote teaching ecosystem.

 “Edify will enable educators and learners to meet in virtual versions of high-tech labs and amazing learning locations and is perfectly suited to delivering high quality outcomes under these unusual and challenging teaching conditions. With Edify, our aim is no less than to make the impossible, possible, for learners and educators alike.”

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “This is a dynamic and positive response to the challenging situation we are finding ourselves in during this unprecedented public health crisis. Edify has the potential to allow students to access many of the benefits of VR teaching from the comfort of their own homes while social distancing is in place.

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“I can see great potential to enhance the remote teaching experience for those studying subject areas covered by this platform, allowing access to VR technology and recreating the experience of being together in a lab or classroom without the need for specialist hardware. I look forward to seeing how this develops.”

Dr Neil McDonnell, Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (Philosophy) at the University’s College of Arts, said: “Using virtual 3D environments in teaching can be extraordinarily powerful, whether those environments are accessed via VR headsets, via Zoom, or on a laptop screen. Edify brings that power to teachers in a practical, accessible way, and the competition being announced today is an opportunity for lecturers to have their own virtual lab, classroom, or environment built on this exciting new platform.” 
 
17/07/2020