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Benjamin Cucchi
How these teachers used virtual reality as an inclusivity tool in the classroom
Apr 28, 2023
8 Minutes

Can you use video games and tools like Minecraft and CoSpaces in the classroom? Here’s a story on how these technologies can foster inclusion and participation: read on to discover the way two Italian teachers used virtual reality to help students with special learning needs.

Before and after VR

Before taking part in 5G Smart School, an education project that provided them with new teaching methods and technologies, Chiara and Enrica were a little bit scared about the effect of these tools in the classroom. However, introducing virtual reality into their English classes drastically transformed their perspective.

They realized how modern technology can improve peer to peer collaboration, positively change the relationship dynamics in the classroom and provide new modes of involvement for students with specific learning needs, resulting in more inclusive activities for all.

What do we mean by VR?
Swipe left to know more
Building digital worlds with Minecraft and CoSpaces

But what exactly did these two teachers do? And what platforms and devices did they use? Leveraging the full potential of two interactive tools, Chiara and Enrica created more inclusive lessons for their students. 

What makes Minecraft so special?
It's the world's most downloaded videogame

Minecraft is one of the most widely used tools for education - it even has a version especially developed for teaching purposes.

Minecraft is a sandbox

You can build new worlds from scratch with cubes that give shape to landscapes and buildings - an extremely customizable digital Lego!

Creative freedom and flexibility

Minecraft gives you the possibility to collaborate in the construction of the same world.

CoSpaces Edu, on the other hand, is a web-based application that can be used to design immersive 3D environments, which can then be explored through VR or AR technologies. It even has the possibility to add animations and interactions through simple block-based coding.

The inclusive power of VR
As a new set of skills is needed - such as digital-age literacy, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and problem solving - new relationship dynamics can emerge. 

Virtual reality offers new participation possibilities that are more inclusive compared to what the standard school setting allows. In particular, students with special learning needs or disabilities – like dyslexia, for example – can overcome the obstacles they normally face through the peculiar features of VR environments. In fact, the whole class can benefit, as everyone can contribute to the group in new ways, fostering peer-to-peer communication and collaboration.

“It went beyond teamwork, it went beyond collaboration. It was that sense of being part of a finally useful learning tool”
Chiara S.
Teacher at IIS C. Cattaneo, Milano
“That situation really improved our relationships in the classroom”
Enrica C.
Teacher at IIS C. Cattaneo, Milano
TL;DR: Memories we will treasure

What will Chiara and Enrica treasure from this experience? How will this impact their future lessons? From Minecraf mindmaps to stories of inclusion: discover what virtual reality can bring to the classroom.

To conclude, what's the main takeaway of these stories? A change in perspective, for both students and teachers, to make these new technologies a factor of inclusion, leading to better cooperation and participation for all - especially those who usually stay in the background.
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