Updated: May 7, 2021
Amongst other principles, here at Young Visions we value inclusion, equality and diversity. We understand that there are different general learning styles and different cognitive styles, and people learn at different speeds - particularly those with challenges to their learning such as Autism, ADHD, Aspergers and Dyslexia. Unfortunately our education system is not built for neuro-divergent students. For far too long it's been a one-size-fits-all structure and those with challenging needs are pushed out of the mainstream. We know this because our founder was one of those children, and we frequently converse with parents and young people currently experiencing these challenges. It's not just those with challenging needs who get left behind though. Often young people find themselves in subject classes that just doesn't stimulate their minds. They become distracted and disruptive. Some will say this is because children in 2021 just don't have long enough attention spans - but at Young Visions we believe this is because the sessions are just too one-track for every student to be engaged often enough. i.e. all about reading and writing and sometimes with little energy in the delivery. Of course we understand that reading and writing are critical attributes for any person to hold, and we understand the pressures that teachers are facing. So Just imagine if you could teach History by transporting young people to a historic location, and add some interactive elements including reading material and writing through quizzes, all enabling young people to engage with their learning in a way that keeps them interested. That's what interactive Virtual Reality can do. And not only does the technology get more advanced and affordable(-ish) each year, but the possibilities that come with that are endless.
Image from Young Visions Information Handbook
Far too many young people leave school with no hope and seemingly no prospects because the school system just wasn't able to cope with their different learning styles. Many of us will already possess many different styles of learning. Some will be visual learners, some learn by "doing" and some like to learn by listening; and some will be all three. The key thing for session planners is to try to blend all learning styles into the teaching approach. Make as many activities as possible interactive so children and young people can feel stimulated by their learning. Reduce the amount of time spent talking at students and encourage their participation in discussion and debate. For example - our VR workshops for PSHE Education blends VR experience with a short time spent on informing young people of statistics and case studies, with most of the time spent encouraging young people to have their own conversation and debate around risk and consequence facilitated by a youth worker. This is how you empower young people; this is how you engage young people in meaningful and memorable learning.
Video: Promo from Young Visions Knife Crime VR workshops
Of course the recent introduction of T-levels and an extra focus on providing more vocational opportunities for students to study has provided the national schools curriculum with some extra flexibility. And we see Virtual Reality being used increasingly in subjects like science where students get to explore bodily organs in unique detail. But the power of VR can go further, much further, and this is what we're exploring at Young Visions with our partners.
To finish our first blog we'd like to ask for your support. Our dream is that in the next decade and a half, every school, college and university will have fully functioning, well maintained, state-of-the-art immersive departments, inspiring the next generation of creatives, engineers, scientists, electricians and plumbers, pilots, police officers, teachers and health professionals. And that these immersive departments not only train that next generation of workers but also empowers young people to increase empathy and awareness towards topics such as mental health and to reduce the potential harm caused to their lives by engaging in damaging activity such as knife crime.
Though we know every social enterprise with big objectives needs a commercial arm, we will forever be a social enterprise working for the benefit of the community rather than our bottom line. And we're effectively starting from zero, that's why we've launched a small crowd funder to help us on our next step. We intend to continue developing the content and formats for this next generation of learning; increasing the engagement in VR for education; increasing the accessibility and affordability of VR; and advancing our ambition to have widespread Virtual Reality for Education.
Credit: Learning style image from Pinterest