From swimming among the stars, to being inside an atom and watching its electrons buzz around the nucleus, educational virtual reality has now become a possiblity in Egypt. LIVIT company, in cooperation with Alexandria Language School (ALS), held an educational virtual reality "Traveling to Space" event on Sunday.
LIVIT is an Egyptian company that started in 2015, specializing in the virtual reality (VR) software development field. The team shares academic experience in engineering and physics. All seven members graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University. Driven by admiration for new technologies as well as belief in the importance of education, they decided to create educational software content for the next generation of students to help them better understand science and visualize it from a new perspective.
"Our team possesses unique experience and skills mixing between both the academic and the industrial sectors," said Hisham Hosni, co-founder and marketing manager of LIVIT. Some members worked in research centers at Nile University, AUC, and Zewail City. Others worked in the industry of software development at Valeo & Vodafone International Services (VIS).
The educational topics covered so far in the LIVIT materials fall within their experience as PhD candidates and postgraduate students. For the topics that don't, LIVIT will seek the consultation of specialists.
"We met up with ALS … and they were very excited to introduce the VR technology at their school, already working on getting the best tools for the school," Hosni recalled. The cooperation had been sparked at the Cairo Eduvation Summit 2016 at the GrEEK Campus earlier this year.
Coming together with ALS found the school responsible for providing a small background tour about the topics presented: space and chemistry. After that, LIVIT representatives gave an introduction to the VR technology, its tools and its potential. Then the participants were given a fifteen to twenty minutes VR experience. The last activity on the agenda was playing an educational game in VR covering the topics experienced.
"We like to think of the complete educational value, thus we aim to provide a complete educational experience, an experience more than just an immersive and impressive VR demonstration."
LIVIT looks to integrate within various educational systems. "Science education is almost the same across the different systems. Our aim is to facilitate delivering the complex educational concepts, we are not specifying certain educational system," Hosni said, adding that the company stresses on the value of the education itself regardless of the age or the educational system.
For a start, the company selected twenty topics included in their school catalogue. They focused on the topics that are hard to imagine, such as electromagnetism, unique experiences students can't enjoy in any other medium, or going to places that they can't ever go, one being inside the atom.
As technology finds its way into traditional education with smart boards, digital books, and online student portals, LIVIT is currently targeting blended learning.
“Blended learning is considered to be the future education and it would be the next step for a better educational level for some schools,” Hosni stated, saying that LIVIT believes that in few years this will encourage other schools to introduce VR at their school for students.
“With the current levels of schools, especially international ones, in Egypt, we believe that they have the desire to provide innovative and non traditional methods for their students. We have a strong belief in our ability to provide a desirable educational platform and tools for these high caliber schools,” Hosni said.
In time, the technology would reach masses, as VR is considered to be a disruptive technology, Hosni explained. "It has the potential to transform how we interact with almost every aspect of our lives. It is believed to be as transformative as the smartphones," he said.
VR technology was introduced decades ago, but it needed big and expensive equipment which prevented its wide adoption. Nowadays, advanced computers and graphical processors have brought down the cost and enabled VR technology with light equipment, and that doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. So, with the cost of the hardware going down and the software development cycle running, in a few years, virtual reality may be an increasingly familiar technology.
"Our vision at LIVIT is to revolutionize STEM education by utilizing the huge capabilities of VR technology and its breathtaking environments," Hosni told BECAUSE. By providing original, interactive, fun and carefully-designed VR educational applications to educational institutes, LIVIT aims to transform STEM education into fun and enjoyable activities for the students, that would be delivered by the help of the instructors to achieve the maximum learning effectiveness, eventually motivating and engaging an increasing number of students with science related studies and careers.
Image: courtesy of LIVIT