Virtual Reality in education and for employability

3D virtual environments in Second Life and developed using Unity 3D; virtual reality through 360-degree videos and 360-degree photospheres viewed through virtual reality viewers

3D virtual environments in Second Life and developed using Unity 3D; virtual reality through 360-degree videos and 360-degree photospheres viewed through virtual reality viewers

Webinar at the ALT Online Winter Conference 2017

On 13 December 2017, Dr Ana-Despina Tudor (@AATudor) and I will be presenting a webinar at the ALT Online Winter Conference 2017.

Virtual reality in education and for employability

Virtual reality is becoming pervasive in several domains - in arts and film-making, for environmental causes, in medical education, in disaster management training, in sports broadcasting, in entertainment, and in supporting patients with dementia. An awareness of virtual reality technology and its integration in curriculum design will provide and enhance employability skills for current and future workplaces.

In this webinar, we will describe the evolution of virtual reality technologies and our research in 3D virtual worlds, 3D virtual environments developed in Unity 3D, and mobile virtual reality via 360-degree photospheres (e.g. as in the Google Expeditions app) and 360-degree videos. We will discuss the technological and pedagogical affordances of virtual reality technologies and how they contribute towards learning and teaching. We will discuss the significance of using virtual reality in education, in training and skills development, and for employability.

Presentation

The presentation can be downloaded as a pdf from here (16.5 MB).

Survey on Online Photo-sharing by People aged over 60 years who live in the UK

pexels-photo-616719.jpg

About the project

Our Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded project addresses the interlinked issues of the process of becoming older, wellbeing, loneliness and social isolation, and taking photographs and sharing them online through applications such as email and social media (e.g. Flickr, Facebook, Instagram).

Details of the project are here

The Survey

If you are aged 60 years or over and live in the UK, we would like to know about your experiences of sharing photographs online via applications such as email or social media (e.g. Google Photos, Flickr, Instagram). 

The survey is at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/photo-sharing-social-media-by-people-over-60-years  or http://bit.ly/2B9FcxJ (short link)

The survey will take 8-10 minutes to complete.

The research design of this project has been approved by The Open University's Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC/2017/2498/Minocha).

Contact details

If you have any queries about the survey or if you would like to reach us on email, please contact Dr Sarah Quinton of Oxford Brookes University (sequinton@brookes.ac.uk) or Professor Shailey Minocha of The Open University, UK (shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk). 

Students swim with sharks, explore space, through Virtual Reality

Scene from Underwater Caribbean, one of the Google Expeditions

Scene from Underwater Caribbean, one of the Google Expeditions

THE PROJECT AND GOOGLE EXPEDITIONS

The Open University (OU), UK is conducting a school-based research project (funded by Google and the OU) on the potential use of Virtual Reality via Google Expeditions in science and geography in school education.

Google Expeditions is a Virtual Reality mobile application being promoted by Google in schools globally. Google Expeditions are guided tours (field trips) of places that students experience on a smartphone through a virtual reality viewer called Google cardboard.

Google Expeditions comprise of 700 expeditions - which are 360-degree photospheres of places and events - for example, Buckingham Palace, The Great Barrier Reef and the coral bleaching in the Reef due to climate change, Borneo Rain Forest, and the International Space Station. These visualisations enable students and teachers to experience places that may be hard or even impossible to visit in real life.

There are simulations too in the Google expeditions app - for example, the respiratory or the circulatory system in a human body, the solar system, the activity in volcanoes during eruption, etc. These simulations are virtual representations of otherwise invisible concepts, processes and events.

Context

We (the research team based at The Open University, Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor and I) were interviewed recently by the journalist for CNN and the article was published on CNN's website on 19 September 2017Students swim with sharks, explore space, through VR

Key research Strands in this CNN article

These are some of key research strands from our project which we discussed in the CNN article/interview

First-person perspective 

The authenticity of the physical spaces in the Google Expeditions facilitates the students taking up role(s) of professionals who belong to that context (e.g. astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), or divers in Great Barrier Reef). The perceptions towards this affordance of first person perspective, as uncovered in our research, are sense of presence and taking the role(s) of persons inhabiting the environment.

For more details, see our post on affordances: Affordances of mobile virtual reality and their role in learning and teaching 

Inquiry-based Learning

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) involves students collecting and interpreting data, and synthesising the information and evidence to address real-world problems in subjects such as history, science and geography. Inquiry learning enables the development of skills for scientific inquiry such as problem-solving and critical thinking. Questions are at the core of any inquiry – questions that the students are curious about and which are situated within the learning outcomes of the lesson.

We have seen that Google Expeditions create a curiosity or need to know, if shown at the start of the inquiry process. The affordances of Google Expeditions facilitate student-questioning and development of high-order questions - more analytical and evaluative than students are able to formulate by looking at videos, pictures, text, etc. 

For more details, see our post: Role of smartphone-driven virtual reality field trips in inquiry-based learning  

Also, see our paper on affordances as a pointer from this blog-post: Affordances of mobile virtual reality and their role in learning and teaching 

Virtual Reality-based field trips in Google Expeditions support outdoor fieldwork 

In our year-long research project, we have investigated how Google Expeditions bridges virtual fieldwork with physical field trips, facilitates inquiry-based fieldwork and experiential learning and improves the effectiveness of outdoor fieldwork education. 

For more details, see our posts: Virtual-Reality Google Expeditions Augment the Physical field trip Experience  and Investigating the role of virtual reality in geography via Google Expeditions

Additional Information

For more pointers to blog-posts and news items related to our research on Google Expeditions, please see our project web-page on Google Expeditions.

Project team

Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor at The Open University, UK 

Dr. Matthew Kam, Research Lead, Google Education Products Team

The project partners in the UK are:

Field Studies Council (Dr Steve Tilling and Mr Dave Morgan);

Association for Science Education (Mr Richard Needham and Ms Marianne Cutler); and

Geographical Association (Ms Becky Kitchen).

Affordances of mobile virtual reality and their role in learning and teaching

Photos from lessons using Google expeditions and a simulation of the Respiratory System (one of the over 600 Google Expeditions)

Conference paper on affordances of Google Expeditions

On 5th July, we presented our paper 'Affordances of Mobile Virtual Reality and their Role in Learning and Teaching' (available from Open University's Research Repository http://oro.open.ac.uk/49441/) at the British Computer Society Interaction Conference at University of Sunderland.

In this paper, we have reported the technological affordances of a virtual reality smartphone-driven educational app – Google Expeditions. An affordance implies the educators' and students' perceptions of how Google Expeditions (GEs) mobile virtual reality support their teaching and learning, and influence their experiences with virtual reality (VR).

Based on a large exploratory study in Google-funded Virtual Reality Research Award, we have identified 10 affordances of GEs in our data. In the paper, for each of the affordances, we discuss the perceptions of our participants: how their experiences of learning and teaching with VR were shaped by GE’s affordances. For each of the affordances and the associated perceptions, we have included quotes to exemplify the experiences.

Role of Affordances of Google Expeditions in Learning and Teaching

We discuss how these empirically-derived affordances support pedagogical approaches of:

  • experiential learning; 
  • bridging virtual fieldwork with physical field trips; and
  • inquiry-based learning. 

Adoption of Virtual Reality in Education

We discuss that the adoption of Google Expeditions or Virtual Reality, in general, in
education is limited by various factors:

  • the discipline/subject being studied;
  • match with the curriculum; and
  • resources available including time, budgets and opportunities for continuing professional development of educators.

Our findings suggest that the most effective use of VR will be when it is combined with other technologies such as videos, podcasts, wikis, blogs or forums, and mobile apps.

The adoption of VR in education is still in its infancy and its development will progress and mature as educators (and students) perceive and exploit the affordances of this technology for their teaching and learning. 

Please have a look at our paper  and please leave your comments/queries below. 

THE PROJECT TEAM

Dr Ana-Despina Tudor and Professor Shailey Minocha at The Open University, UK 

Dr. Matthew Kam, Research Lead, Google Education Products Team

The project partners in the UK are:

Field Studies Council (Dr Steve Tilling and Mr David Morgan);

Association for Science Education (Mr Richard Needham and Ms Marianne Cutler); and

Geographical Association (Ms Rebecca Kitchen).

Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over

Photos from our workshops taken by Dr. Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK

Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project

In this Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project on digital health wearables for people aged over 55 years (May 2016 - July 2017) and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes (MK) and Carers MK, our aim was to investigate whether and how wearable activity-tracking technologies can acceptably contribute towards self-monitoring of activity and health by people aged over 55.

Example technologies include trackers from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung, and smart watches. Typically, these devices record steps walked, sleep patterns, calories expended and heart rate.

Through our empirical investigations, we have identified:

  • challenges for adoption of these technologies;
  • the need to design for age-related impairments (e.g. vision, hearing, memory, dexterity);
  • concerns related to data management, security and data privacy;
  • positive behavioural changes of using activity monitoring devices, and, in general;
  • the role of digital health wearables in caring, self-management of health, post-operative monitoring of mobility, and for monitoring movement and locations in conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Report

A preliminary and brief report of the project is now available: pdf report

Citing this report: Minocha, Shailey; Banks, Duncan; Holland, Caroline; McNulty, Catherine and Tudor, Ana-Despina (2017). Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over. Report submitted to Sir Halley Stewart Trust, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Trust who funded this project.

Project Team

Dr Duncan Banks,  Dr Caroline Holland, Ms Catherine McNulty, Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor, The Open University

Mrs Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes

Mrs Sue Bowering and Mr Robert Benn, Carers Milton Keynes 

ESRC Impact Acceleration Award

Ageing population, retaining independence of older people, support to carers, and using internet-enabled technologies to transform healthcare services are some of the national concerns. We are now involved in a multi-way knowledge-exchange (KE) programme (April 2017 - January 2018) through an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award to set up dialogues with/between key stakeholders including manufacturers for improving the design of digital health wearables for older users, carers and medical professionals.

Call for participation of manufacturers: Activity trackers for older people, carers and people being cared for

Photos from our workshop with carers and manufacturers on 16 June 2017 (courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK)

Project

The Open University (OU), UK, in collaboration with Oxford University, Age UK Milton Keynes and Carers Milton Keynes, is involved in a research programme related to digital health wearables for older people, carers, and people being cared for. 

The research programme consists of two projects. 

  • The first project was funded by Sir Halley Stewart Trust and a poster based on the research carried out on one of the strands of this project is here
  • The details of the second ESRC-funded project in this research programme are in this pdf. This project is focussed on knowledge exchange with a variety of stakeholders including manufacturers of digital health wearables.

Workshop on 16th June 2017

As a part of the ESRC-funded project, we organised a multi-stakeholder workshop with 16 attendees involving the project team, carers and manufacturers on 16th June from 10 am to 13:15 at the OU's campus in Milton Keynes.

The aim of this workshop was to link up the requirements and expectations of older people, carers and people that we have collected so far in the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project, with manufacturers and policy makers in a multi-way knowledge exchange. Our (the research team's) objective  is to influence the usability and service design of digital wearables for older people, carers and people being cared for based on the evidence that we have consolidated in our empirical research

Series of multi-stakeholder knowledge exchange workshops

This workshop is a part of series of workshops that we will be organising on this project until the end of this year. 

Are you a manufacturer of digital health wearables?

If you are a manufacturer of digital health wearables and would like to participate in one of our workshops, please do contact us by email: digital.health.wearables@gmail.com or shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Virtual worlds for real experiences

Picture: Educators' meeting of the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) in Second Life

Picture: Educators' meeting of the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) in Second Life

My inaugural lecture Virtual Worlds for Real Experiences will be held on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 at The Open University's campus in Milton Keynes, UK. I will discuss how online technologies such as social software, activity trackers, virtual reality and 3D virtual worlds bridge time and places, interleaving the virtual with the real – allowing people to communicate and collaborate with those whom they may have never met, experience places they may never be able to visit, shop, learn, and do research.

I will focus on three domains that we have conducted research on over the last few years:

  • social software;
  • digital health wearables or activity trackers; and
  • virtual reality and 3D virtual worlds. 
Picture: Designing virtual worlds for real experiences

Picture: Designing virtual worlds for real experiences

The underlying themes of these three domains that I will discuss in the Lecture are:

  • how online technologies can empower people - to become more socially connected;
  • how being online can alleviate social isolation and loneliness;
  • how online technologies can provide real experiences - where people get value from their online interactions and, through that broaden their horizons; and
  • how online technologies can support individual and collective learning, skills development and knowledge construction.

In these initiatives, the design of the online technology is paramount for providing real experiences to the users. The dimensions of the design that I will elaborate in the Lecture are:

  • design of online spaces;
  • design of activities;
  • setting expectations of the users; and
  • scaffolding social norms, rules, roles and etiquette for interactions. 

The live-stream on the day and the video recording after the Lecture will be at this link.

The hashtags for this event are: #OpenMinds #OUTalks

 

Could an app replace a trip to the doctor?

Babylon and Machine learning

There have been news reports this week on an app replacing a trip to the doctors: an app with a robot doctor that can triage, diagnose and even treat individuals over their phones. Some of these are:

Babylon puts a doctor in a machine, BBC Technology  

Babylon raises £50m to perfect its AI Doctor, CITY A.M.

Babylon raises $60m to build AI doctor to diagnose illnesses, Financial Times, FT.com

Our response

Our response to these news items and based on our ongoing research on the use of digital health wearables for self-monitoring and self-management of health is available here:

Could an app replace a trip to the doctor?

Workshop on Google Expeditions at the Geographical Association Conference

Photo: Smartphone-driven Virtual Reality-based Google Expeditions App workshop

Photo: Smartphone-driven Virtual Reality-based Google Expeditions App workshop

Workshop title: Investigating the role of virtual reality in geography via Google Expeditions at the Geographical Association's 2017 Annual Conference on Friday, 21 April at 9 am. 

Workshop organisers: Dr Steve Tilling, Dr Ana-Despina Tudor, Ms Becky Kitchen and Professor Shailey Minocha

About Google ExpeditionsGoogle Expeditions is a Virtual Reality mobile Application (app) which consists of field trips of places that students experience on a smartphone through a Virtual Reality (VR) viewer called Google cardboard.  The Google Expeditions app (available for Android and iOS platforms) has more than 500 expeditions. An expedition comprises of 360-degree photospheres of a location (e.g. Rio de Janeiro). Google Expeditions enable visualisation of locations which may not be feasible or easy to visit in real life (e.g. Galapagos islands or the Tolbachik volcano). Further, Google Expeditions have simulations to envision concepts and systems such as the human heart, the respiratory system, or the process of pollination.

Details of the workshop: Participants will have the opportunity of a hands-on session with Google Expeditions and will be invited to discuss/evaluate the outcomes of a Google-funded project that has investigated the role of virtual reality in geography and science school education.

Our research objectives for geography education in schools have been:

  • —Whether and how smartphone-based Virtual Reality with 360 photospheres like Google Expeditions (GEs) can be integrated in the Geography curriculum - e.g. teaching geographical concepts and phenomena
  • —How smartphone-driven Virtual Reality like in GEs can support geographical enquiry?
  • —How smartphone-driven Virtual Reality like in GEs can complement physical field trips?

In the workshop, we will specifically focus on the role of Virtual Reality in geographical enquiry - both in the context of classroom practice and for physical field trips.

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award

Photo: Workshop at The Open University's campus in October 2016.  The participants (people aged over 55 years) came in to discuss their experiences of using the activity monitoring trackers (Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project)

Photo: Workshop at The Open University's campus in October 2016.  The participants (people aged over 55 years) came in to discuss their experiences of using the activity monitoring trackers (Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project)

We have received funding from an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) in a partnership between The Open University (OU) and University of Oxford for our project: Designing Wearable Activity Monitoring Technologies that work well for Older Users and Carers (Project reference: 1702-KEA-282). The project will run from April 2017 to January 2018.

Wearable activity monitoring technologies include, for example, trackers from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung, and smart watches. Typically, these devices record steps walked, sleep patterns, calories expended, or heart rate and their functionality is increasing. Given the UK’s ageing profile and as part of the agendas of Active and Healthy Ageing and digital NHS, there is an increasing focus on maintaining health in later life and encouraging physical activity to preserve mobility and motor skills, and self-monitoring of health and medical conditions. 

The ESRC IAA project aims to produce a multi-way knowledge-exchange between key stakeholders for improving the design of activity monitoring technologies (and digital health wearables, in general) for older users, carers and medical professionals. The stakeholders will comprise of: academia; industry (manufacturers of digital health wearables); statutory and voluntary groups such as Bucks Vision, Dementia Friends; older people and carers through Age UK MK and Carers MK; and OU’s partnerships with medical networks.

Our focus will be to build on and exploit recently gathered user-based evidence (from our previous Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project) on the functionality, usability and accessibility of  wearable technologies, the accuracy and reliability concerns of stakeholders, and ethical considerations of data-usage. We gathered this evidence through user engagement on the role of wearable activity monitoring technologies in the health and well-being of people aged 55 years and over in the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project - trialling devices with a group of older users and conducting surveys and workshops with multiple stakeholders: carers, people aged over 55 years, and medical and healthcare professionals.

Our practitioner partners on this ESRC IAA project are: Age UK Milton Keynes, Carers Milton Keynes and Samsung, UK.

The academic team consists of: Dr Duncan Banks, Dr Caroline Holland, Ms Catherine McNulty, Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor of The Open University; and Dr Kate Hamblin and Dr George Leeson of The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford. The project will be managed by Ms Louise Thomas of The Open University.

Digital health wearables for the person being cared for: a survey

Sleep patterns shown on the dashboard of the digital health wearable (photo courtesy: Dr. Duncan Banks)

We would like to know about your perceptions of using digital health wearables for monitoring the health and activity of the people you care for. It is not necessary for you to have used such devices for the people you are caring for to participate in this survey. Your inputs will help us to understand how similar health wearables could be effectively used if they became a part of healthcare: caring, monitoring and self-management of health.

Our current focus is on activity trackers (e.g. wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung), which track daily fitness levels such as heart rate, sleep patterns, or calories expended.

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/digital-health-wearables/) at The Open University, UK, we are running a survey: please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-for-the-person-being-cared-for or http://bit.ly/2iN4YSd to participate in this survey.

The survey will take 6-8 minutes to complete it.

Since these devices are not yet designed to accurately analyse data from wheel-chair usage, if you could fill up this survey only if you are caring for somebody who is mobile and not wheel-chair bound.

The university’s Human Research Ethics Committee has approved the project’s research design. If you have any queries about the project or this survey, please contact Professor Shailey Minocha: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Google expeditions and fieldwork: friends or foes?

The Association for Science Education (ASE) Annual Conference

Workshop on Saturday 7th January 2017

The Research Project:

Google Expeditions (https://www.google.co.uk/edu/expeditions/) is a Virtual Reality (VR) approach being promoted by Google in schools globally. Google Expeditions are guided tours (field trips) of places that students experience on a smartphone through a virtual reality viewer called Google cardboard.

The Open University (OU), UK are conducting a school-based research project (funded by Google and the OU; July 2016 - June 2017) on the potential use of VR via Google Expeditions in secondary school science and geography.

The project (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/google-expeditions/) is being co-led by Field Studies Council, and UK's Association for Science Education and Geographical Association are the two partnering organisations.

About the Workshop:

This workshop will provide an opportunity to try out Google Expeditions and to explore how they could be used to support teaching and learning, including fieldwork.

Are Google Expeditions a threat to traditional field trips or could they become a complementary tool for strengthening the quality of outdoor learning, for example by providing an immersive technology which adds context and substance to pre-field preparation, in-field activities and post-field revision and reflection?

Presenters:

Ana-Despina Tudor and Shailey Minocha (The Open University, UK)

Steve Tilling (Field Studies Council)

Marianne Cutler (ASE) and Richard Needham (ASE and Vicia Learning Solutions Ltd.)

Workshop location at the ASE Conference: 

Henley Business School, 101, University of Reading, UK

Related posts:

PhD Studentships - Innovation and Learning Pathway: ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Partnership

Walton Hall, The Open University, UK http://bit.ly/2hjMnNM under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

There are full-time and part-time PhD studentships available at The Open University, UK as a part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grand Union Doctoral Partnership.

The details of studentships are available here

This webpage on University's website has links to descriptions for each of the six research pathways. If you are interested in the Innovation and Learning pathway and in the following themes in this pathway, please contact me:

  • MOOCs for continuing professional development of school teachers,
  • Role of MOOCs and Open Educational Resources (OERs) in lifelong learning and in facilitating up-skilling of older people,
  • Potential of virtual reality to support inquiry-based learning in Geography and Science in schools,
  • Social interaction in computer-mediated communication environments, and
  • Online collaborative learning: challenges and advantages. 

The deadline for applying for studentships is 20 January 2017.

 

PhD Studentships - Health and Wellbeing Pathway: ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Partnership

The Open University, UK, from: http://bit.ly/2hqHMVS under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

The Open University, UK, from: http://bit.ly/2hqHMVS under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

There are full-time and part-time PhD studentships available at The Open University, UK as a part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grand Union Doctoral Partnership.

The details of studentships are available here

This webpage on University's website has links to descriptions for each of the six research pathways. In the description of Health and Wellbeing pathway, there is a strand on Ageing and Later Life and also some cross-cutting themes.  If you are interested in the Ageing and Later Life strand and these cross-cutting themes listed below, please contact me:

  • digital health literacy,
  • role of wearable activity monitoring technologies and digital health wearables in self-management and self-monitoring of health and in remote healthcare,
  • design of digital healthcare technologies for older people,
  • role of social networking platforms in addressing the social isolation and loneliness in older people,
  • role of virtual reality in healthcare, and
  • digital (medical) education initiatives for healthcare staff through simulations in virtual reality and 3D virtual worlds.

Our related ongoing Sir Halley Stewart-funded project on digital health wearables for older people is described here

We have an ongoing PhD project related to digital health literacy: 'Digital health literacy for older people: Investigating the motivations, challenges and experiences.'

This web-page and the blog on this website have further details/resources on our projects/initiatives related to the themes listed above.  

The deadline for applying for studentships is 20 January 2017.

Google Expeditions and Lesson Plans

Picture courtesy: Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor

Picture courtesy: Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor

Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions are virtual field trips in the form of 360 photospheres that can be viewed through virtual reality headsets called Google Cardboard that are driven via the Google Expeditions App on the smartphones.

There are over 300 Google Expeditions listed in this spreadsheet: http://bit.ly/1GxJ9xf

Some of these expeditions have lessons plans in TES: https://www.tes.com/resources/search/?q=%23Googleexpeditions

About the project

In the Google- and UK's Open University-funded project, we are investigating the role of Google Expeditions in Geography and Science learning and teaching in schools. Details of our project are available in this blog post

UK's Open University (Shailey Minocha and Ana-Despina Tudor) is working with Google and leading UK education organisations including the Field Studies Council (Steve Tilling and David Morgan), Geographical Association (Rebecca Kitchen and Alan Kinder) and The Association for Science Education (Marianne Cutler and Richard Needham). 

Project webpage

The project webpage on this site is here.

Activity trackers and people aged over 55 years

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016, pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016, pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

We organised the fourth workshop of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded Digital Health Wearables project at The Open University on 14 October 2016.

As discussed in our blog-post dated 9 October 2016, we are recording the experiences of 21 participants who are using activity trackers as a part of this project. The activity trackers are from Fitbit (e.g. Fitbit Alta, Fitbit HR), Microsoft (Band 1 and 2), and Misfit Shine. The workshop-discussions since June 2016 have uncovered a number of challenges people over 55 years experience with using the activity-trackers - from opening the packaging, accessing the instructions/manuals online, and to discovering the features of the device. 

We are investigating how the behaviours of our participants is changing – whether there is an increase in their activity such as walking or gardening, lifestyle changes, attitudes towards food/diet, and so on. How do they do how much of physical activity (and number of steps) is optimal for them (age; medical conditions, if any; etc.)? Does an increase in physical activity help towards the loneliness that people experience in later life? In addition, we have been eliciting their perceptions about sharing of the data with family, friends, carers and medical professionals. 

As discussed in this news item of our project, the wider implications of this project are in determining how digital health wearables can be used for self-monitoring and self-management of health by older people, and for remote-monitoring of specific conditions such as Parkinson's. 

Virtual reality boosts students’ results

Use of Google Cardboard to experience Google Expeditions (photo courtesy: Dr Ana-Despina Tudor)

Use of Google Cardboard to experience Google Expeditions (photo courtesy: Dr Ana-Despina Tudor)

"Virtual and augmented reality can enable teaching and training in situations which would otherwise be too hazardous, costly or even impossible in the real world." Edwin Smith, in Raconteur Report on Virtual and Augmented Reality, http://rcnt.eu/9ci

Our project on Google Expeditions is mentioned in this article "Virtual reality boosts students’ results" has featured in the report – Virtual and Augmented Reality (the report is available for downloading from the article's web-page, on the left hand side).

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Our research project’s objective is examine the role of Virtual Reality (VR) in science and geography in schools. 

On this Google Expeditions project, UK's Open University (Shailey Minocha and Ana-Despina Tudor) is working with Google and leading UK education organisations including the Field Studies Council (Steve Tilling and David Morgan), Geographical Association (Rebecca Kitchen and Alan Kinder) and The Association for Science Education (Marianne Cutler and Richard Needham). The project is funded by Google and The Open University, UK.

NEWS ITEM RELATED TO THE PROJECT

A recent news item on our project is available at Open University's website at this link.

Use of data from fitness trackers in medical consultations

Are you a doctor or healthcare provider? Do you come across data from fitness trackers such as from Fitbit etc. in your consultations?

Activity data on the dashboard in the iPad App of the wearable (pictures courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK)

About the project

Our research project at UK’s Open University and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes aims to investigate whether behaviour changes in people aged over 55 years through the use of wearable activity-tracking technologies. Example technologies include those from Fitbit, Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung.

We have launched a survey that is aimed at medical professionals to explore whether they use the data from these devices for diagnosis and intervention. Most importantly, do medical professionals use data from these devices to determine the behaviour or lifestyle changes in people aged over 55 years?  


Call for participation in the survey

As a medical professional we would like to know about your perceptions of using digital health wearables in medical consultations, diagnosis and treatment. Our focus is on wearable fitness devices which track daily fitness levels (e.g. wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung). 

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project at The Open University, UK and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes, we are running a survey: please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/role-in-medical-consultations or http://bit.ly/2cPr852 to participate in this survey. It will take 3-5 minutes to complete it.

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any queries about the project or this survey, please contact Professor Shailey Minocha, The Open University: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk 

Virtual Reality in Science and Geography Education

Two Science teachers looking at Google Expeditions via the Google Cardboard viewers (picture courtesy: Dr. Duncan Banks)

Two Science teachers looking at Google Expeditions via the Google Cardboard viewers (picture courtesy: Dr. Duncan Banks)

Google Expeditions

A Google Expedition (GE) is a Virtual Reality approach comprising of 360 degree photospheres of a location (e.g. a museum, or a city like Rio de Janeiro, an active volcano) along with the description of location, points of interest and suggested questions for discussion. Using a Tablet and via the GEs App, a teacher can guide students. Students experience the GE through the smartphones embedded within the VR viewers called Google cardboard.

About the project and ASE article

Our research project’s objective is examine the role of Virtual Reality (VR) in science and geography in schools. Details of our Google and The Open University-funded research project on Google Expeditions have appeared in The Association for Science Education's in-house magazine Education for Science, September 2016.

The article is not open access but we have received a pdf version from the editor - which is available here.

On this Google Expeditions project, The Open University (Shailey Minocha and Ana-Despina Tudor) is working with Google and leading UK education organisations including the Field Studies Council (Steve Tilling), Geographical Association (Rebecca Kitchen and Alan Kinder) and The Association for Science Education (Marianne Cutler and Richard Needham).

press release

A press release of our project is on our university's website, Teaching in Virtual Reality, 27th September 2016.

Use of digital health wearables by people aged over 55 years: A survey

Picture courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK

As a part of our Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded Digital Health Wearables project and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes, we (The Open University team) have launched a survey aimed at people aged 55 years and over to elicit their experiences of using activity monitoring devices such as FitBits or using the health and activity monitoring features on smart watches (e.g. from Apple, Samsung).

The survey enquires about the device they use the most (in case they have more than such a device): challenges in using the device; advantages towards well-being and quality of life; privacy and ethical aspects about data-sharing; usage of the data for self-monitoring/self-management, or for alerting medical professionals or their family. 

The survey is available at:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-over-55years-age-choices-effects or http://bit.ly/2bwfpEW (shortened version of the link). It will take 6-8 minutes to complete the survey.

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee (reference HREC/2015/2191/Minocha/1).

If you have any queries about the survey, please contact Shailey Minocha of The Open University, UK: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Many thanks.