Gaming and IT students came face-to-face with the co-founder of Pixar during a lesson with a difference, reports Samantha King.

The group of students from Langley College, part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, wore virtual reality headsets and were transported into a virtual classroom, where they met the Oscar-winning animator Loren Carpenter, beaming in live from the United States.

Loren Carpenter in the virtual lecture hall

He talked to learners about his experiences working at Lucasfilm and Pixar, as well as upcoming projects he has in the pipeline.

“Through virtual reality, we can create a fabulous distributed classroom where anyone in the world with the internet can access a classroom and teaching,” he explained. “Students can experience what it is like at the top of Everest, or get inside a locomotive to see how it works up close.”

The exchange was facilitated using ENGAGE, a free platform that allows schools, colleges, universities and businesses to create a virtual classroom and bring together teachers and learners anywhere in the world.

Observing the session were educators from local schools and colleges, who were invited to see the technology in action by the event’s organiser, Christian Long, a gaming tutor at the Windsor Forest College Group.

“Like a drill in a carpentry workshop VR should be there being used every single day, rather than just showing it off as a nice little toy you might get out for Ofsted because it’ll look good,” Mr Long said.

“It is said we only retain 30 per cent of what we hear, but 90 per cent of what we experience. It’s why we can often remember our childhood holidays vividly, but not many of our school lessons. VR is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging students and helping them experience what they learn, so the lesson is never lost.”

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