New technology like 5G could help provide new opportunities for education in Wales, according to a new trial which launched today (10 March).
5G Wales Unlocked is the innovation project behind the new immersive 360-degree classroom in Ebbw Vale – just one of several trials demonstrating how ultrafast technology like 5G could transform rural communities, from powering tech innovations in agriculture, to improving rural transport and education and bolstering the tourism industry.
Using a localised 5G network by project partners BT, the classroom uses the high-speed connectivity to project inspiring and educational video content onto all four walls in a 360-degree format, providing an immersive experience.
Lessons can be delivered across a variety of curriculum-related themes —taking children and young people on a journey of the senses as they ‘dive’ into the detail of a plant cell or explore the surface of a planet.
What’s more, the experience isn’t limited only to the pupils using the Immersive Classroom. Thanks to the ultrafast 5G connection, live link-ups have also been established — allowing learners to discover the fascinating history of heritage sites such as Raglan Castle, with a live virtual tour from a Cadw custodian located at the site.
The live link-ups, using Cisco technology, can also be used to connect classrooms across the country — meaning pupils can work collaboratively with other learners, and educators can enhance their own lessons in partnership with other schools.
Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS, said:
“It’s fantastic to see learners in Ebbw Vale benefitting from next-generation technology, thanks to this innovative project.
“It’s our ambition to see Wales leading the way in using digital technology to deliver high-quality education, and to raise attainment and skills of all learners, regardless of background. This trial will help learners in rural areas engage with the curriculum in an exciting, immersive environment.”
Nick Speed, BT Group Director in Wales, said:
“We’re excited to be part of this pioneering project looking at the potential of 5G in rural areas.
“The immersive classroom is a brilliant example of how 5G’s greater bandwidth can help deliver rich, high quality content to inspire school pupils about the world, wherever they’re located. It has the potential to reduce the education gap between areas and make sure that all pupils have access to this kind of innovative learning material.”
In a joint statement, Cllr Joanne Collins, Executive Member for Education and Cllr Dai Davies, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development at Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, said:
“It is great news that Ebbw Vale is going to host the 5G immersive environment. Our young people will no doubt benefit from this exciting and interactive way of learning. It is the future of learning and will help teachers go far beyond traditional teaching methods using 5G technology.
The classroom will also support wider digital learning and training opportunities to develop specialist skills that can be transferred to the wider professional world. These skills will be invaluable for jobs of the future.”
Peter Shearman, Head of Innovation for Cisco UKI, said:
“We believe in an inclusive future for everyone. This is especially important in education, where digital has become such an important part of teaching and learning.
“Cisco is delighted to have invested in the collaboration platform for these schools in the valleys and rural south Wales as part of the 5G Wales Unlocked project.”
For further information about the Immersive Classroom please click here.
5G Wales Unlocked has been made possible by funding from the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys Programme and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.