Students enter virtual world to test school design

Students and teachers in Birmingham, England, will be able to test plans for rebuilding their schools using a computer-game style virtual world, reports the BBC. A project linking schools and software developers will allow schools to experiment with different furniture layouts and building designs. It has been likened to playing a computer game in which characters can move around a 3D environment. Birmingham has plans to rebuild or refurbish 82 secondary schools. Birmingham City Council’s education director, Sylvia McNamara, says the virtual tool will give "students, school leaders, governing bodies, and the local community the opportunity to creatively engage with design concepts."

Allowing more people to test ideas, such as the furniture, fixtures, and fittings, will improve the usefulness of the finished design, says Emma Leaman, who works for the council as a "transforming education officer." The on-screen avatars who explore the design include wheelchair users, allowing the design to be tested for suitability for disabled students. The Learning Environments Virtual Reality Online Simulator (LEVROS) was developed by a technology company, MOOFU, in partnership with the Institute of Education, University of London, Birmingham Local Education Partnership, and Kenn Fisher of Melbourne University…

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