Pupils can now experience what it is like to be in outer space or under the ocean in a new immersive classroom where scenes are projected onto the walls and ceiling.
North Lanarkshire Council has teamed up with BT to create the 5G-enabled classroom, said to be the first of its kind in the UK.
The 360-degree room creates a digital projection which uses all four classroom walls and the ceiling to bring the real world into an immersive experience for students, who can experience what it is like to be on a First World War battlefield or even on top of Everest.
With 5G’s greater bandwidth, content can be livestreamed virtually from any location with minimal disruption and many more devices can connect than on previous networks.
Frank McNally, convener of education and families with North Lanarkshire Council, said: “The classroom really gives our young people the opportunity to be transported anywhere in the world, to the oceans, to outer space, to historical events, and it really enhances the learning opportunities for our young people using the most state of the art technology that we have at the moment.”
He added: “The immersive classroom allows us to break free of the traditional classroom boundaries.
“Its potential uses really are limitless and we hope that it can be used to engage pupils who are perhaps turned-off by traditional learning experiences, as well as by local community groups such as historical societies.
“This project shows that North Lanarkshire is at the cutting edge in terms of technology and connectivity and demonstrates our commitment to providing our pupils with outstanding learning opportunities.”
He said that the council hopes to expand the initiative so that, in time, every town has an immersive classroom that can be used by school pupils, children in early years and the wider public.
Pupils from Carbrain Primary in Cumbernauld tried out the classroom and enjoyed seeing scenes from the rainforest and an art gallery, and experienced the view from a gondola gliding through Venice.
Lauren McIntyre, a primary school teacher from Whitelees Primary, was working with the children at the centre and said the immersive classroom will be a brilliant resource for teaching.
She said: “This classroom is brilliant because it’s transformational for children and young people but also in the wider community because it brings things to life, you can go in there and experience things you might not be able to.
“You say for instance, ‘I want to do a writing task on going to the beach’ so I can take the full class in there and we can go to the beach, we can get those adjectives and we can get those synonyms and it makes it a higher quality of writing as well.
“You can go anywhere, so you can choose the content specific for what you are teaching.
“The children have loved it.”
The interactive experience can be applied to learners of all ages and be deployed across many industries in the UK.
Rob Shuter, chief executive of BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “By harnessing the power of 5G, we’ve been able to help transform education for students in North Lanarkshire.”
He added: “We’re really excited to be partnering with the Council to use our ultrafast 5G network to provide a UK-first in education.”