This month we have spent a week leading fieldwork in Madhya Pradesh, India for a new project which aims “To explore the use, benefits, context-specific issues and research potential of 360-degree video and mobile VR in researching teachers’ classroom practice and to support teacher professional development.”
This is a new and interesting avenue of research and we were fascinated to learn more about how this combination of mobile technologies could help support much needed improvements in teaching quality by facilitating the recording, viewing, reflecting on, documenting and sharing of classroom teaching.
Fieldwork took place in two rural primary schools and a teacher training college. Multiple lessons were recorded in 360-degree video and teachers then viewed clips of these lessons on VR headsets fitted with a smartphone, whilst participating in semi-structured interviews. In this way, teachers were able to re-watch their lesson in immersive 360-degree by simply turning their head to look around the classroom as the video replayed in real time. In doing so, as one teacher observed, you can see ‘each and every child’. Reaction and feedback were captured in the interviews. At the teacher training college, we conducted further interviews by showing trainee teachers and teacher trainers recordings of other lessons. The day concluded with a workshop involving around 50 trainee teachers.
Participant response was overwhelmingly positive and appears to confirm the feasibility and promise of this technique and approach – perhaps not just in India but in any teaching context. Over the next months we will analyse the data collected. This will be used to develop a theoretical framework for understanding 360-degree mobile VR use in teacher professional development and practical guidance for its implementation.
To our knowledge, this was the first pilot of this type to take place in Indian classrooms and teaching colleges. Looking ahead, we have secured support from the state education department to conduct further trials and have identified a range of options for follow-up work. We are keen to secure further funding and partners to explore this work further so do get in touch to learn more.
The project secured permission from the State education department who we thank for their support. The fieldwork was made possible by funding from the Open University and support from the TESS-India project.