Shows Dr Peter Tiernan and Dr Alan Gorman using VR equipment
Dr Peter Tiernan and Dr Alan Gorman have worked with the School of Computing on the project. Credit: Kyran O'Brien

DCU researchers launch virtual reality classroom communication skills resource

A new virtual reality training environment simulating the experience of classroom teaching allows students more opportunities to develop their presentation and communication skills.

The internally funded project led  by Dr Peter Tiernan and Dr Alan Gorman in DCU’s Institute of Education, explores the impact of a purpose-built Virtual Reality classroom. The project allows pre-service teachers to practise communication and presentation skills in an immersive VR environment and gathers their perceptions of VR as a tool for developing these fundamental skills.

The classroom environment, which was developed by Jitesh Jhawar (DCU School of Computing graduate) using the Unity platform, monitors and stores data on students’ interactions such as movement, eye contact, hand gestures, and voice recordings. This data can later be used to analyse and evaluate their performance and identify areas for improvement. Students can also import PowerPoint presentations to support their teaching, and use a virtual whiteboard to draw out or explain concepts in the virtual classroom. 


Shows Dr Peter Tiernan and Dr Alan Gorman posing with VR equipment

The immersive classroom environment has been used by students in DCU’s Institute of Education since early December, and it will be extended to students in the Faculty of Science and Health this month. It builds on existing VR facilities at the university such as DCU Business School’s Colm Delves lab which provides staff with immersive media training.

Dr Peter Tiernan and Dr Alan Gorman said

“Building a VR environment, with teachers in mind, has been a fascinating experience. We believe it opens up huge possibilities to explore how VR can be used for initial teacher education, and for the development of communication skills more generally.”