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HTC VIVE Introduces VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker and Eye Tracker

       

 

HTC VIVE expands rich VIVE Focus 3 ecosystem with Eye and Face Tracking

Lightweight and user-friendly, with low latency and high-precision, fitting into VIVE Focus 3 seamlessly

VIVE’s new trackers suit a wide range of use cases, from helping to create realistic avatars, through to medical assessments

 

HTC VIVE announces VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker, expanding the VIVE Focus 3 ecosystem to deliver more natural and immersive professional VR experiences.

Enhanced eye and facial tracking boosts engagement with peers for enhanced virtual collaboration and human interaction in VIVE Focus 3, ideal for virtual events, training, chat groups, VIVE Sync remote meetings, animation and motion capture, and more.

Express yourself in VR

VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker makes it easy to naturally convey your emotions and read intentions in real time. Its mono tracking camera captures expressions through 38 blend shapes across the lips, jaw, cheeks, chin, teeth, and tongue to precisely capture true-to-life facial expressions and mouth movements on avatars.

With a 60Hz tracking rate and optimised runtime for facial tracking, users can synchronise lips to voice with minimal latency and enjoy lifelike interactions in high fidelity. VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker set up is made easy as the module seamlessly connects to VIVE Focus 3 headsets through the built-in USB Type-C port with no need for add-ons or adaptors.

The benefits of facial tracking are vast, improving soft skills in presentation coaching, customer service management, training, and more. Users can track and improve their emotional preparedness, helping to achieve better real-life outcomes across many applications, from education and healthcare to human resources and creative industries.

Unlock the benefits of eye tracking

Gain access to insightful data with VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and reach a heightened level of VR immersion. Bringing realistic eye movements and blinks to virtual avatars delivers true-to-life virtual collaboration and improves human connections in VR through expressive, non-verbal interactions. By tracking and analysing eye movement, attention, and focus, businesses can open the door to deeper user behaviour analysis.

The dual camera setup with supporting IR illuminators is capable of capturing data for gaze origin and direction, pupil size and position, and eye openness. The lightweight module easily attaches magnetically to the headset without impacting the balanced ergonomics and the adjustable IPD works perfectly with the VIVE Focus 3 headset to help users find their viewing sweet spot.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker allows you to see what users see to understand intentions and improve feedback, perfect for training and education scenarios. Measure duration and locate direction with heat mapping and gaze tracking to gain insights about performance and interaction to improve outcomes. VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker also helps to understand how users naturally interact with a product and improve the experience by uncovering actionable insights about user intent.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker also makes gaze control possible, opening new avenues for how people experience immersive content, as well as new accessibility options. Eye Tracking also helps with GPU workloads, as foveated rendering prioritises areas where the user is actually focused.

Both VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker support Unity, Unreal Game Engine, and Native. Developing is easy with VIVE’s WaveSDK and upcoming OpenXR support and it’s also seamless to stream content from a PC via VIVE Business Streaming.

A rich ecosystem for professional VR

VIVE Focus 3 has a rich ecosystem of both hardware and software for professional-grade VR. Since launch, HTC VIVE has released five accessories, including VIVE Wrist Tracker, multi-battery dock and carry case giving businesses the features and flexibility to create their ideal VR set-up.

Hand-tracking, OpenXR, extensive Wave SDK, Location-Based Software Suite and MDM support open the possibilities for developers. Devices also come with VIVE Business Warranty and Services which includes a two-year commercial warranty, and expedited return/replacement if needed.

VIVE Focus 3 Eye Tracker and VIVE Focus 3 Facial Tracker are available to order today for £216 and £83 respectively.

Back-to-school internet safety advice as children return to the classroom

  • New research from connectivity provider TalkTalk reveals that 99% of children aged 7 to 13 will have access to internet enabled tech when they go back to school*
  • Half of parents are concerned about the content their child could access when using internet-enabled technology for school related tasks at home*
  • TalkTalk and Internet Matters share advice on how parents can keep children safe online

6th September, 2022: As we start the new school year, TalkTalk and Internet Matters have issued safety advice to parents whose children may be having access to internet enabled devices for the first time.

 

Research from TalkTalk reveals that almost every (99%)* child heading back to school this week will have access to internet enabled tech either at home or in school. Parents overwhelmingly see the internet as a force for good, and the advice is aimed to help those who may be unsure how to approach the topic with their young children.

 

8 in 10 parents say their child has developed new skills as a result of spending time online**. Parents cited the ability to access educational websites i.e. BBC Bitesize (65%) as a key benefit, as well as conducting research (52%) and playing online games that help to develop creative skills (51%)**. Despite this, a third do admit that they have no idea what their children get up to online **.

 

Over half (54%)* of 7 to 13-year-olds are now spending up to two hours of their after-school time online, with the top three most common school tasks being online homework (79%), reading (40%) and talking to classmates (29%)*.

 

However, this access to new tech has led to concern among parents about other content their child could access while using internet enabled technology for their schoolwork (50%)*. Network data from TalkTalk shows that the use of smart plugs, typically used to connect voice assistants to a power source, has increased by 47% over the past year***. Suggesting that the range of internet enabled technology available to young people at home is growing.

 

Earlier this year, TalkTalk’s research around the Online Safety Bill found that 65% of parents see unregulated online spaces such as chatrooms and the metaverse as a huge risk to their children***. Other concerns include talking to other online users (68%), social media (63%) and online gaming (45%)***.

 

In fact, 74% of parents say they use internet safety tools, such as blocking certain websites or filtering tools to limit their child’s access to certain content and 64% of parents say they are trying to reduce the amount of time their child spends online***.

 

Matthew, parent of two (aged 7 and 9) said, “From an early age my children have used mobile devices, tablets, and computers as part of their learning, at home and school. As they grow older, and begin to use internet enabled tech more, I have concerns around online safety on open platforms (i.e. social media) or socially interactive games. Both of my kids play with their friends on Minecraft for example, but they’ve been instructed not to talk to or “friend” strangers, and we monitor this on an ad hoc basis.”

 

“Having access to the right information when it comes to online safety – whether that’s tangible resources like home security tech or expert tips – is invaluable while navigating the transitional period as children begin to spend more time online.”

 

TalkTalk has partnered with Internet Matters, an organisation set up to help parents keep their children safe online. Internet Matters’ website holds an abundance of practical information about how to talk to children about their online presence, including a back to school online safety guide that parents may benefit from this week.

 

They advise a collaborative approach to back-to-school online safety: They advise a collaborative approach to back-to-school online safety:

 

  1. Practise open and honest conversations with your child, as it will mean they are more likely to approach you if they feel unsafe online.
  2. Ensure you are aware of the school’s online learning policy. Schools have now developed these for children’s safety, and you should be able to find it on your child’s school website.

 

  1. Set boundaries around when and for how long your child is allowed to use tech, which apps and websites they can access, who they can contact and how they should behave online. Agree this together so they feel part of the decision-making process.

 

  1. Make sure that they know what to do if they come across unpleasant content – depending on their age it may be more appropriate for them to tell you rather than try and deal with it themselves.

 

  1. Consider adding a web filter, such as TalkTalk’s HomeSafe feature, to your home Wi-Fi to block inappropriate content and set time limits for gaming and social media websites. You should also ensure that your security features are up to scratch.

 

TalkTalk’s Head of Customer Security, Mark Johnson, says: “As a parent I know how worrying it could be not knowing what your child is getting up to online. Online security is key to us at TalkTalk, which is why we work with Internet Matters to offer advice for parents who may not know how to approach the topic of online safety with their children or where to find resources and tools to help keep their children safe.”

 

HALF OF TEACHERS FACE PENSION FUNDING SHORTFALL

  • Nearly half (48%) of teachers expect not to have enough money to fund their retirement
  • Three quarters (75%) of teachers plan on leaving the profession before retirement age
  • 37% of teachers will need to keep working in some form to fund retirement after they start drawing their pension benefits

As teachers are heading back to the classrooms this term, almost half (48%) say they will not have enough money to fund their retirement – highlighting a potential retirement ‘funding gap’ within the profession according to new research from Wesleyan, the specialist financial services mutual for teachers. 

 

Three out of four (75%) UK teachers say they are looking to leave the profession before the normal retirement age for their pension savings, even though many haven’t saved enough to fund their retirement. 

 

The research also showed a trend in ‘flexi-retirement’ – teachers continuing to work after they have ‘retired’. Nearly two fifths (37%) of respondents to Wesleyan’s survey said they will need to keep working in some form after they start drawing their pension benefits.

 

The main reasons for doing so were to generate income for luxuries (27%) and one in six (14%) said they would need to work to ensure they could meet their basic needs.

 

The results found that many teachers are confused by the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). Just a third (34%) of teachers said they fully understand the TPS rules around ‘phased retirement’.

 

Phased retirement options give teachers the choice to access up to 75% of their pension benefits while still working and contributing to the scheme – but what they are finding confusing are the rules and regulations around working patterns and salary to access this option. Many teachers do not realise this is an option for them.

 

Additional research with members of the teachers’ union the NASUWT found that 22% teachers planned to take early retirement because of stress/workload pressures. A further 21% stated that they were retiring early to have a better work/life balance (21%)*.

 

Glen Roberts, Area Manager at Wesleyan, said: “September is a natural time to reflect on career ambitions and the new school year ahead, and it’s traditionally a month when we get a surge in enquiries about retirement planning. It is concerning to see that so many teachers are worried or confused about their retirement.

 

“The traditional concept of retirement as a time when people fully leave the world of work behind is becoming more and more outdated. As our findings show, teachers are increasingly choosing to work in retirement. For a small but nonetheless significant proportion, it will be a necessity so they can meet basic needs – a worrying finding.

 

“A financial adviser really can help make the planning process easier to manage – including helping to determine whether teachers have enough to afford the retirement they want, and how to make early or flexi-retirement possible.”

 

The Retirement Living Standards guideline is that an individual will need £33,600pa in retirement to live comfortably**. This means they will be able to cover everyday cost plus pay for some luxuries such as holidays and beauty treatments. However, the average pension for a male teacher is £16,034pa and £11,581pa for a female teacher.*** This would mean a shortfall in income of up to £22,019 in retirement. This shortfall will reduce to approx. £12,392 if the full flat rate state pension is paid from state pension age.***

 

askOLA & YPO: a future for EdTech

Schools are, by and large, back to functioning in a way that is similar to before the pandemic. In-person teaching, and the use of physical resources are once again the basis of how teachers educate children, as opposed to a reliance on online technologies and digital learning methods.

However, during the pandemic, YPO, one of the UK’s largest public sector buying organisations in the UK, surveyed educators and found that 79% believed the crisis would have a lasting impact on teaching. Respondents outlined their belief that the result of this would be a hybrid approach that combined traditional ways of teaching with educational technologies and online resources.

Digital technology served teachers well during the pandemic – they were an absolute necessity and successfully allowed for education to continue whilst many other sectors were brought to a halt. It’s no surprise that teachers continue to find these tools useful, as professionals in schools continue to face a myriad of challenges ; be that to overcome teacher shortages or assist students with their mental health.

As a key support to the sector, YPO is always focused on finding new ways to alleviate pressures felt by education professionals. Recently, this has led to a partnership with edtech tutoring platform, askOLA.

askOLA

askOLA is an online, on-demand platform developed by GLUU, which acts as an alternative to private tutoring. Young people can access professional academic support from online learning assistants(OLAs) via the platform – qualified and vetted professionals who deliver personalised academic coaching across English, maths and science – whenever pupils feel that they need it.

YPO has always been a helping hand for schools, identifying and providing high-quality resources to assist with learning. askOLA is a tool that provides appropriate out-of-school support to children, whilst relieving pressure on teachers, who can then focus on in-classroom teaching. This is a particularly important benefit given the current teacher shortages that the country is facing.

Teacher shortages

According to a recent survey from the Association of School and College Leaders, 95% of schools are currently experiencing difficulties recruiting staff. Teacher shortages, which result from a culmination of factors including a lack of national recruitment and low retention rates, are having a real impact on the education system and the students within it. For example, 69% of schools are using non-subject specialists to teach classes. askOLA and YPO’s partnership can help to alleviate some of this pressure.

In a term-length pilot at Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust, the askOLA platform extended student’s learning time by 1,500 hours. Previously, this would have made up for lost learning time resulting from Covid-19, but going forward, schools can rely on askOLA to provide additional support that teachers are currently too stretched to give themselves.

With new research from the National Foundation for Educational Research estimating that shortages will continue until 2025, its important that schools consider this type of alternative support to ease the pressure on teachers in the long-term.

Wellbeing

askOLA’s point of differentiation from other, similar platforms is that OLA’s are trained to check in on young people’s wellbeing alongside their provision of academic support. YPO’s research on education during the pandemic found that 64% of parents were concerned about their children’s mental health and wellbeing, and NHS figures show that the likelihood of a child experiencing a mental health disorder has increased following COVID-19, so it is imperative that the support extended to children covers this ground too.

In its pilot, students reported feeling that askOLA had helped them with their wellbeing, including stress felt over homework, anxiety about not knowing the answers to questions and general mental health. If students show signs of needing more serious mental health support, OLA’s are also able to point students in the direction of wellbeing resources or to a professional mental health support platform, Kooth.

Looking ahead

Investment in resources such as askOLA is absolutely key to the functioning and continued modernisation of the UKs education system, but it’s important to acknowledge that this must come alongside a consideration of how many young people can feasibly access these digital platforms when they are at home. YPO’s research found that ensuring digital inclusion was the biggest challenge that schools faced during the pandemic, so it must be a continued focus for young people to have access to basic digital services and technology.

It’s clear that digital learning methods have a place in the future of education; teachers and students alike value them strongly, and they can be developed in a way that pinpoints what the education system needs. Having education professionals fully embrace these technologies, and ensuring access to them for all pupils, is the next step.

 

 

Unlocking a new level of learning: Enhancing the connection between parents and their school community

 

By Giancarlo Brotto, Global Education Advisor at SMART Technologies

 

As we look towards the start of a new term, educators as well as parents, will be contemplating what more they can do to supercharge the learning of their children and students. Students have had to contend with a lot over the past few years which in turn, distanced them from their teachers, and it’s safe to say that there is a lot of catching up to do.

 

With this in mind, it’s crucial that strong connections within the students’ support network – whether that’s between student and teacher, or teacher and parent – are taken to new levels with enhanced collaboration. This way teachers and schools can make up for the lost time in the classroom over the pandemic, by providing comprehensive support for their students both in school and at home.

 

We know, from data collected by SMART’s very own Edtech Assessment Tool, that schools can achieve better performance outcomes by creating a more symbiotic relationship between teacher and parent. Feedback from the assessment tool shows a clear connection between improved learning for students when the full school community is involved, resulting in greater efficiency in how learning is delivered.

 

With school set to return for the 2022-23 year, what do the key priorities look like for educators to enhance their connection with parents and ultimately benefit the student throughout the year?

Knowing who your pupils and parents are

 

The impact on learning brought by the pandemic has been widespread. Enforced social-distancing took students out of the classroom and siloed them and their parents away from the school. In some extreme cases, new students wouldn’t go on to meet their teachers and classmates in person for over six months.

 

Now normality has resumed, parents and teachers can refamiliarise themselves with one another and form a bond that helps preserve student wellbeing for the foreseeable future and like every connection, it takes effort to nurture.

 

What does this look like in practice for teachers? It means taking the opportunity to talk to your pupils and their parents, not just in the classroom or when an issue arises, but in a wide array of times like at pick-up times and during regular check-ins around performance and wellbeing. This active effort to connect with pupils and their parents on a one-to-one basis brings a multitude of benefits, like building increased trust and keeping parents up to date with the ongoing activity in the classroom.

 

To this point, remember to share the positive news! Parents are always open-eared about their children’s work and progress, so make sure to share their strengths – whether that’s a new skill they’re learning, academic improvements or their positive attitude in the classroom.  Sharing these anecdotes with parents will only help to reinforce positive behaviours outside of the classroom.

 

How EdTech is breaking down the barrier between school and home

Necessary steps were taken during the Covid pandemic to ensure learning continued and one of the steps was a seismic shift towards online learning and technology-based teaching, which enabled the ability to remotely teach and learn. Now with an increased presence of edtech in schools, what can educators do to take advantage of it?

 

To put into context just how quickly the adoption of education technology was, our research shows that almost two thirds (64%) of schools in the UK are now embedding technology in everyday teaching and learning practices, using it to transform teaching approaches and learning outcomes with 84% of schools in the UK reporting positive outcomes for students, and 76% reporting to have met their teaching and learning goals as a result of this adoption,

 

One of the greatest attributes of modern edtech is its deployment in a variety of settings. Whether in-class or at home, educational portals brimming with content provide teachers and students alike with a variety of methods to teach & learn. It is this accessibility that meant that in a matter of days, kitchen tables and living rooms became the classroom for thousands of students during the pandemic. This presented a new and exciting opportunity for parents to engage with their child’s education like never before.

 

Technology is able to break down the barriers between parents, teachers and staff, allowing a free flow of communication, which we all know to be vital in a child’s education. Finding that blend between school life and home life is pivotal to guarantee that both are areas where children feel comfortable to learn, to ask questions and to engage with the material. 

 

For an example of this integration between schools and parents that utilises technology, we can look at Shireland Technology Primary. Shireland actioned a plan that transformed the ways in which communication with parents was handled by integrating SMART technology throughout their education programme, both through interactive displays or the SMART online portal ‘Lumio’. This means that all content and resources that were being taught throughout the school were readily available to parents and students at home.

 

Going forward into term

With this information, teachers can go into the new term with the goal of building out  students’ wider support network by setting out goals for the year early on, so that parents know exactly where the focus of their child’s learning is headed and can contribute.

 

Parents know, just as well as teachers, that students need increased support following the disruptions of the past few years. To place this responsibility solely at the feet of teachers means that a student’s learning is put on pause at the end of every school day. Through an increased relationship and connection between teacher and parents, students can be guaranteed a consistent support system, home and in-school, that helps them engage with the curriculum through enjoyable educational technology. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early trials of automarking software for maths papers indicate 99% accuracy

Automarking software developed by Cambridge AI company, Blutick, achieves 99% accuracy across marks in two GCSE papers when checked by a human marker.

Ofqual research suggests that, in maths, 30,000 students (4%) receive a mark which does not align with the ‘definitive grade’ given by the principal examiners. However, following a successful trial, an automated marking tool developed by Blutick was found to be 99% accurate when assessing scripts across two GCSE exam papers. This is an important step in helping to significantly reduce any margin of error, and ensure students receive the grades they deserve. 

Blutick is a Cambridge AI software company focused on teaching, learning and assessment in maths. The organisation is currently working with exam boards to improve marking consistency by augmenting and supporting the work done by examiners, and ultimately, champion a fair system for all students.

Once the automated marking was conducted across the exam papers, an examiner reviewed the students’ responses and the Blutick mark, correcting any marks where necessary and returning an accuracy rate of 98.6% to 98.75% by the AI software.

Currently, a sample of only 1.2% of questions are double marked (Ofqual 2018, p. 9). However, a 2013 review of literature on marking reliability research by Ofqual indicates the value of multiple marking for exam scripts. Despite this, it raises the recruitment of examiners, cost implications, time constraints and logistical issues as barriers to its introduction across the board. With other experts also disputing the accuracy of the current examination and grading system, this new automated marking software would help remove these barriers and challenges, increasing the feasibility of multiple marking.

Rob Percival, Blutick’s CEO and a former maths teacher, said:

“With so few questions double marked, there is a lot of scope for error. A system like this can review 100% of marked papers and flag potentially erroneous responses for further checking.

“It in no way replaces the work done by examiners, but instead acts as a safety net in ensuring more students get the grade they deserve with almost no extra cost or increased workload for examiners.”

Beyond eradicating errors, more automation in marking processes is a growing focus for exam boards and for Ofqual. With barriers to recruiting suitable examiners exacerbated by Covid, automarking software provides a solution to these problems that benefits students, teacher–examiners and exam boards.

Simon Armitage, Deputy Head at The Perse School, Cambridge, said:

“Whilst examination grades should never be the sole measure of ‘output’ from a school or the nature of any student’s achievements, it is self-evident that any grades must be fair.

“Anything that helps exam boards to deliver accurate results more reliably is good news for everyone – students, schools, universities and employers. It is one of the reasons why The Perse School has been pleased to be involved in the Blutick Maths project.

“If an Artificial Intelligence system is part of this improvement, then it also helps reduce inevitable human error and could help exam boards to circumnavigate the difficulties of finding well-qualified markers.”

Education is the second best industry to work in for a good pension, new study shows

  • Working in public administration and defence (including compulsory social security), offers the best employer contributions to your pension
  • Education is the second-best sector to work in for employer pension contributions
  • Wholesale and retail trade is the worst sector to work in for generous employer contributions to your pension

A new study has revealed the industries that offer the best pension contributions by your employer, with public administration and defence (including compulsory social security), otherwise known as the civil service, taking the top spot.

The study conducted by investing comparison site Investing Reviews analysed data from the Office for National Statistics to establish which industry has the highest percentage of its workforce receiving employer pension contributions of 20% or more.

The research revealed that employers in public administration and defence (including compulsory social security) are the most generous when it comes to pension contributions with 67.9% of employers contributing 20% or more to their employees’ pension pot.

Education is the second-best sector to work in when it comes to employer contributions to your pension. The percentage of employers in the education sector contributing 20% or more is 64.0% – the second highest percentage out of all industries. The high contribution percentage is likely due to both industries being largely based in the state sector as well as private sector.

Employers in the electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply sector that contribute 20% or more to their employees’ pension pot comes to 19.4% – the third highest percentage of any sector.

The fourth best sector to work in for a good pension contribution is the human health and social work activities sector. A total of 15.4% of employers in this sector contribute 20% or more to the pensions of their employees.

Water supply, including waste management, sewerage, and remediation activities, is the fifth-best sector to work in for good employer contributions to your pension. Employers contributing 20% or more to pension pots in this sector are at 10.6%, the fifth highest out of all industries.

Interestingly, working in wholesale and retail trade (including the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles) results in the lowest percentage of employer contributions of 20% or more, at only 1.3%.

The best industries to work in for a pension
Industry Rank Percentage of employers that contribute 20% or more to employees’ pension
Public administration and defence (including compulsory social security) 1 67.9
Education 2 64.0
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 3 19.4
Human health and social work activities 4 15.4
Water supply 5 10.6
Arts and entertainment 6 8.5
Finance and insurance activities 7 7.6
Transportation and storage 8 7.2
Real estate activities 9 6.2
Professional, scientific and technical activities 10 4.0

Commenting on the study, a spokesperson from Investing Reviews said: “With the cost-of-living crisis playing on the minds of many, working in a sector that offers good pension contributions can bring ease of mind when thinking about future finances. This study serves as an insightful guide as to the sectors where employer contributions are higher than others.”

The study was conducted by Investing Reviews, an independent comparison review site that was set up to help people make smarter decisions about investing.

 

IMPACT – A five-part framework for making a difference in schools

From influential Executive Headteacher Nick Hart comes
Impact, a practical framework for improving outcomes for
children in both primary and secondary classrooms, helping
them thrive and succeed.
Impact provides a strategy for thinking about, planning for and
maximising the impact of teaching in your school. All educational
establishments require leaders and teachers who can make a
difference, regardless of the community context, age range or
Ofsted grading of the school. This book condenses the
knowledge that educators need and offers practical steps to
improve academic attainment and progress, as well as pastoral
outcomes such as social and emotional development, behaviour,
attendance and wellbeing.
Impact is ideal for the aspiring middle leader striving to make a
difference in their school, the middle leader tasked with raising
standards in their subject or phase, and the senior leader working
on school improvement. Nick Hart identifies a five-part framework
for understanding what impact really looks like, helping educators
at all levels to plan for and recognise the difference they can
make in their classroom, department or school. This book is the
perfect tool to inform professional development, subject action
plans and school development plans in a very practical way.

Nick Hart is the Executive Headteacher of two primary schools in
Berkshire and is the course lead for the National Professional
Qualification for Headship (NPQH) at the Ambition Institute. Nick is the
organiser of ResearchEd Berks, and also speaks regularly at education
conferences and events including UKEdChat. He blogs at
www.thisismyclassroom.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter
@MrNickHart

You can read an extract here.

Discovery Education’s Augmented Reality App Earns Spaces4Learning New Product Award

Discovery Education—the worldwide edtech leader whose state-of-the-art digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place—recently earned the Spaces4Learning New Product Award in the K-12 Remote Learning Technology category for its Sandbox AR app. The Spaces4Learning New Product Award programme honours the outstanding product development achievements of companies whose products or services are particularly noteworthy for their ability to enhance the learning environment.Spaces4Learning is a leading publication for companies and organizations interested in creating high-quality facilities in both K-12 and higher education.  

 

Discovery Education’s Sandbox AR app empowers students and teachers to create, share, and even inhabit virtual environments. Within Sandbox AR, users can create virtual worlds and populate them with some of the hundreds of unique objects from history, the built world, science and nature, and more. Sandbox AR also gives students new ways to express themselves and demonstrate their learning through a feature that lets learners take photos or record a video walkthrough with their own voice over. Sandbox AR even offers a mode that allows users to scale up and inhabit their own life size virtual environments.

 

For those new to AR, Sandbox AR includes many pre-built sandboxes exploring diverse subjects such as ancient Egypt, space exploration, Mayan civilization, road construction, and more, with additional sandboxes coming soon. Discovery Education is also making available several free, pre-built lessons educators can use with the app to familiarize themselves with integrating AR into classroom instruction. Sandbox AR is available for download here.

 

The development of Sandbox AR was led by Discovery Education’s UK-based Immersive Learning team who have been pioneers in creating Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences for schools for over 30 years. 

 

Sandbox AR received its world premiere at the BETT Show in March, where it was launched on the Main Stage with London-based educator Simon Pile sharing how he has used the app in his school.  

 

“Since its inception, Discovery Education has been an early mover in bringing innovative technologies—such as streaming video and digital textbooks—into the classroom, and we are now excited to put the power of augmented reality into the hands of educators with the Sandbox AR app,” said Howard Lewis, Managing Director, UK and International, at Discovery Education. “We are honoured by this recognition as it validates our work to provide all educators state-of-the-art resources that connect students to the world around them. Thank you to the Spaces4Learning team for this recognition.”

 

The winners are determined by a panel of judges. Learn more about the New Product Awards and the 2022 winners here.

 

For more information about Discovery Education’s award-winning digital resources and professional learning services, visit www.discoveryeducation.co.uk, and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Twitter and LinkedIn

 

Protect art lessons to help children stay stress-free and engage with learning, says Independent Association of Prep Schools

  • New study shows children aged 9 – 10 feel more awake (47%) and active (38%) following art sessions
  • Moods were also improved with children saying art gave them an outlet to express themselves, leaving them feeling more cheerful
  • Independent Association of Prep Schools calls on schools to deploy art lessons tactically to help pupils re-engage with learning

 

London, 4th August 2022: Do not cut art lessons and instead use them wisely to re-engage children and support them in opening up about their feelings and emotions, says Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS). The advice follows its new study1 which reveals pupils feel more awake (47%), energetic (39%) and active (38%) after a 45-minute art session. It comes at a time when many schools are facing budget cuts and are under pressure to drop art and other creative lessons.

 

Conducted in partnership with Dr Bettina Hohnen, Honorary Senior Teaching Fellow at University College London and clinical psychologist specialising in child mental health, the study explored the effects of art on children aged 9 and 10. Students from IAPS schools took part in independent focus group sessions and were asked to complete a mood questionnaire before and after a 45-minute art session, in which they could pick what they drew, painted, or made.

 

In addition to boosted energy levels, the study found the sessions reduced some of the negative moods tracked, with more than one in five (22%) children saying they felt less bored following their art session and 14% saying they felt less sad, highlighting how art can be used to increase student engagement and rebuild concentration levels.

 

IAPS believes the study demonstrates that art should be used by schools more creatively, with post-Covid year groups under pressure to deliver in core academic subjects, and children managing different emotions and stresses than previous cohorts.

 

A previous study2 from IAPS in partnership with TooledUp demonstrated how two-thirds (67%) of school staff were worried about pupils’ ability to interact face-to-face post-pandemic, potentially damaging their social skills and emotional development. Exploring potential solutions, in IAPS’ latest study many children said art made them “feel really good” and “more calm”. Other students said they “like being able to draw things from the outside after being in lockdown,” and that they enjoyed art because it “lets me release all my thoughts; I find it really calming”. Children also felt inspired to consider art as a profession in later life.

 

Comments from students on the day show how many found art calming and allowed them to express themselves, with trends in the data suggesting art enables children to release pent-up anger and frustration, or more difficult emotions such as feeling annoyed (-14%) or cross (-15%). Additionally, two-fifths (41%) of children reported feeling more cheerful and 37% felt more pleased following the activity.

 

Christopher King, CEO of IAPS said: “The creative side of education is hugely important, but not regulated, so when it comes to school budgets and comparing against inspection results, we are seeing art and other creative activities being cut. This needs to stop, as art teaches pupils so much more than to simply draw, paint or create. It teaches them skills to cope with their emotions and provides an outlet to express themselves. This is so important post-Covid.

 

“We encourage all schools to think creatively when it comes to art, before making any changes to curriculums or extra-curricular activities.  Art can be used to boost pupils’ energy levels and help them cope with emotions and talk about difficult issues. This is something which particularly younger students have struggled to learn during the pandemic. For many children, especially those who struggle with more academic subjects, art provides a reason to attend school and something for them to enjoy both in lessons and at home.”

 

Dr Bettina Hohnen, Clinical Psychologist, commented: “Arts activities involve and develop many key skills including attention, imagination, engagement, emotional regulation, understanding of others and self. Interestingly, not only were many children reporting increases in positive moods after the session, but many reported positive mood scores initially, suggesting they were excited to be taking part and have the creative opportunity. The results of this small study show the positive impact when children are given the opportunity to express themselves creatively.

 

“Some children said it was a safe space, where they could be themselves and be accepted, with one child saying “it expresses who I am”. This sense of belonging and place to be authentic is essential for children, particularly at a time when re-integration is high on the agenda post-lockdown.

“While the emotional direction of change was not the same for every child and it is important to consider the wider aspects of a person’s life, the research demonstrates how important art is for children to potentially improve wellbeing, reduce stress, increase positive energy and motivation and allow them to express themselves. This is a subject that ticks all the boxes for a school committed to improving the cognitive, social and emotional wellbeing of their pupils”.