How XR is transforming vocational education
Using SynergyXR’s Extended Reality (XR) platform, Svendborg Vocational College in Denmark is enhancing its educational programs to inspire a new generation of students.
The Challenge: attracting more people to study vocational educations
Svendborg Vocational College is a higher education institution based in Denmark. It offers 21 different educational tracks, teaching people how to be electricians, mechanics, painters and more, working closely with local industry throughout the study programs.
These educations provide invaluable skills and are vital to any well-functioning society and economy. Yet, in many countries, these sectors are currently experiencing a labor shortage, and are struggling to recruit enough qualified staff.
Brian Østergaard, in charge of coordinating XR at the college, tells us how there is a real need to encourage more young people to study and become qualified in these trades to help fill the gaps in the labor market.
Adding to this, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the college almost overnight to change how to deliver their teaching. The majority of the subjects taught at the college require regular hands-on, practical lessons, meaning that their education was not something that could simply be replaced with a video call.
Education has always been a space for experimenting with new technologies, and Svendborg Vocational College is home to the MakerLab, where students and teachers are able to experiment with emerging technologies such as robotics, 3D printing and XR. Realizing that with most subjects the students are used to “having something in their hands”, exploring the possibilities of Extended Reality seems a natural fit.
The Solution: versatile Extended Reality platforms
Seeking a flexible solution that could be used for all educations and for teachers with no prior experience, SynergyXR provides Svendborg Vocational College with XR services in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. We break down the ways in which XR is proving an invaluable tool for the college.
Easy to use and accessible
Using SynergyXR is straightforward even for those who do not consider themselves tech whizzes. The platform is accessible to everyone, meaning that no coding and programming skills are required. This enables teachers and students from all backgrounds to use the platform with just a short onboarding period.
In the case of Svendborg Vocational College, many students were able to start using SynergyXR by themselves in as little as 10-15 minutes. The common reaction from students would be “oh, is it that easy?” says Brian, and soon after it would only be natural for them to come and ask for an iPad or Meta Quest 2 Virtual Reality goggles to spend more time immersing themselves in the XR world.
One of the requirements for the college was to have an XR platform that could be used by all the different educations and at different stages of the teaching process.
For instance, for students tasked with designing a product or object, they are able to create a 3D model using a smartphone or tablet. Once they have done this, using SynergyXR’s AR application, they are able to see how that product or object would look in a real-world environment.
Then, by putting on the Meta Quest 2 the students are able to use Virtual Reality to see how their creation would look across a number of environments, whether this is an office, living space or factory floor.
Using the same application, a similar workflow can be used for many other educations. Even for theoretical subject matters, meeting in a virtual classroom with classmates and teachers is a great way to add a more interactive and collaborative element to the course syllabus.
Sune Vejling, a teacher of technical design and industrial technician at the college, describes how using SynergyXR has transformed elements of the design process and made concept development easier. “Before using SynergyXR we were reliant on paper for developing designs, often having to imagine elements in our minds to see if they would fit together. Now, we are able to easily incorporate the 3D elements and give a complete overview of the design.”
Jonas Elmhauge, studying to become a technical designer, describes how using XR gives him more flexibility when creating designs. When getting feedback from teachers and fellow students, he tells us how XR makes it far easier to incorporate any suggested changes into his designs.
Familiarity with XR Tools
Extended Reality is here to stay and is increasingly being adopted by many industries. So, for many students, their experience with XR will not end once they finish their education. Brian describes how while using XR is “fun and entertaining” it is also “something that you can use in your professional life.”
Getting familiar with XR will only help set the students up for success in their future professional lifeBrian Østergaard | Head of XR, Svendborg Vocational College
For Sune, this puts students as the “first movers” – an enviable attribute to have in an industry that is developing so quickly.
The benefits of gaining familiarity are also echoed by the college’s students. When asked about the importance of incorporating XR into the curriculum, Jonas answers simply “because it is the future” going on to state that “we are the first ones to get this as a part of our education … so when we get to the job market, we will have something that no one else has.” He also tells us how his boss was “blown away” when shown the XR technology, as it gives the company so many more opportunities to enhance the customer experience.
The Result: Improving the educational experience
Since teaming up with SynergyXR, Extended Reality technologies have become a core element of the college’s everyday teaching. Even though Covid restrictions have been removed in Denmark, the success of using XR has led to the continued use of hybrid learning methods.
When asked about the success of using the technology, Brian notes the frequent smiles on the faces of the students who are always eager to try out and experiment with the technology.
What’s more, many of the teachers who were initially skeptical have overcome their hesitancy after gaining experience and familiarity with both the software and hardware.
One of the great potentials of using Extended Reality in education is how students will bring their experience and enthusiasm for XR to their future jobs. When it comes to the workplace, Brian describes that when many students go off on a work placement or enter full-time employment, companies often reach out to the college, keen to learn more about XR technology.
Going forward, Brian also discusses how the success of XR technologies has led to increased collaboration with other educational institutions and the wider industry. For example, later this year the college will host Technical Design teachers from across Denmark to demonstrate how XR can be used when teaching the subject.
Using Extended Reality in education is not simply a quick fix for when people can’t be together. Whatever the subject and education level, XR can enrich the learning process, spark new, innovative teaching methods, and even serve as an enticement to attract more students to learn in-demand trades.
About Svendborg Vocational College
Svendborg Vocational College is a higher education institution located on the island of Funen, Denmark. It is the first college of its kind to use Extended Reality technology and is passionate about exploring new innovative teaching methods.