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.

Survey on the use of digital health wearables

Do you use digital health wearables or activity trackers such as wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung, or a smart ring or bracelet? 

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project at The Open University, UK (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/digital-health-wearables/), we would like to know about your experiences of using such devices for monitoring your health and/or self-management of your health and the criteria that you used when you were considering the device(s) for yourself. 

Please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-choices-effects to take part in an online survey related to this project. 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.

Research Associate position in Google-funded Virtual Reality research project

Picture courtesy:  https://flic.kr/p/DmnKXh

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/DmnKXh

Research Associate opening in our Google-funded virtual field trips research project in collaboration with UK's Field Studies Council. The position involves conducting research on a Google-funded Virtual Reality Research project. The focus of this project is to investigate the pedagogical and usability effectiveness of virtual reality (VR)-based virtual field trips - Google Expeditions (GEs) - in fieldwork in subjects such as biology and geography that have a long tradition of physical fieldwork. 

The details of the position are here: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/ANJ829/research-associate-in-human-computer-interaction-and-education-research/

or on The Open University's website: http://www3.open.ac.uk/employment/job-details.asp?id=9177

The last date for receiving the applications is noon of 5 May 2016.

Fully-funded PhD Studentships

Fully-funded PhD studentships are available in the Department of Computing and Communications, The Open University (OU) UK

The details are available here:  http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/ANH409/two-studentships-in-computing-and-communications/

These are the projects that I have proposed along with colleagues in my department and in OU's Knowledge Media Institute:

Developing geographical understanding through 3D immersive environments

How can technology enhance fieldwork learning

MOOCs for professional development of school teachers

Education and training for globally distributed virtual teams: preparing the workforce for the future

Loneliness research presentation

Shailey will be presenting at an event organised by the Campaign to End Loneliness on 14th April 2016. The outline of the presentation is as follows:

In association with Age UK Milton Keynes, we have conducted research to investigate the conditions that lead to social isolation and loneliness among older people (55 years and above) in Milton Keynes, and to recommend possible strategies and solutions to prevent and mitigate isolation. The project was funded by the Milton Keynes Council and commissioned by the Senior Joint Commissioner, Adult Community Services. The research has involved a review of academic and policy literature on social isolation and loneliness, and an information gathering exercise that included expert workshops, individual and group interviews, and site visits. This talk will be based on the project's report and will discuss several case studies of older people and interventions for social isolation and loneliness within Milton Keynes. We hope that the recommendations and the resources from our report and in this talk would be useful for other communities, towns and cities, who may also be facing the challenges of supporting an ageing population.

Project members: Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes and Shailey Minocha, Duncan Banks, Caroline Holland and Catherine McNulty of The Open University.

Associated publications: Please see the list in Open University's Research Repository.

Award from Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Our project 'Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over' has received funding from Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/mw795j

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/mw795j

The project will investigate the challenges that the older people may experience: being adverse to these technologies as they may highlight their lifestyle; not having the digital skills to make an optimal use of these devices; or not being comfortable about sharing the data with others. 

We will investigate the ethical issues: whether the data that is collected is ethically used by the family to remotely monitor their loved ones and to pick up any health care concerns; and how this data might be used by medical professionals to facilitate timely clinical interventions. 

We will evaluate how usable these devices are to promote behaviour change, or influence the likelihood of long-term adoption: challenges associated with making sense of the data that is provided by these devices; does the data encourage people to be more active, exercise more, eat more healthily, or to quit smoking or drinking? 

Project team: Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes, Shailey Minocha, Duncan Banks, Caroline Holland, Catherine McNulty and Alice Peasgood from The Open University. 

Google Virtual Reality Research Award

Our project 'Pedagogical and usability evaluations of Google Expeditions' has received the Google Virtual Research Award. This project will be led by Shailey in collaboration with Dr Steve Tilling of UK's Field Studies Council and in association with UK's Geographical Association (GA) (Alan Kinder , Chief Executive, GA) and The Association for Science Education (ASE) (Marianne Cutler , Director for Curriculum Innovation, ASE). 

Google Expeditions (GEs)  are guided tours (field trips) of places that students experience on a smartphone through a virtual reality viewer called Google cardboard. GEs are comprised of virtual reality panoramas and are led by a guide or teacher. Using a Tablet, teachers can guide up to 50 students wearing the virtual reality (VR) viewers and point out highlights while referring to editable notes.

Google is teaming up with hundreds of schools to teleport students to far-flung places often seen in their textbooks. The program called Expeditions uses virtual reality. This is part of a widening initiative not just in the U.S., but also in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and the U.K.

The focus of our project is to investigate the pedagogical effectiveness of GEs, in biology and geography fieldwork – subjects that have a long tradition of physical fieldwork.

A daily photo journal that helps to address social isolation

Rebecca Jones of The Open University along with some of the other attendees at the event

Rebecca Jones of The Open University along with some of the other attendees at the event

As a part of the Centre for Policy on Ageing (CPA) and Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies (CABS) seminar series, The Representation of Older People in Ageing Research, a seminar 'Social Media and Research in Ageing' took place on 30th October 2015 at The Open University's London office (1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden, London, NW1 8NP).

Taking the example of an online photo journal called blipfoto which encourages users to document their life with just one photo each day, Shailey discussed how online social interactions influence the lives of people aged over 65 years, the challenges that they face, and the concerns that they have about being online.

The presentation is available here in Open University's Research Repository. The live blogging of the talk is available in Rebecca Jones' blog.