Hi, my name is Chris Bass and I am the Educational Services Manager at Avantis Education. Previously, as a primary school teacher, I worked in education for nearly 9 years, leading Music, Literacy, and IT and covering almost every year group, from Nursery up to Year 6. In 2018, I started working with Avantis Education, training schools in the use of Virtual Reality in the classroom. Now, as the manager of the Educational Services team, it is my responsibility to ensure that the resources we provide for ClassVR and Avanti’s World are of the highest possible quality and, more importantly, accurate and educationally significant. I work closely with our user schools and training teams and love seeing our resources making real, tangible improvements to student outcomes.
ClassVR and Sketchfab
Since its launch back in 2017, ClassVR has been able to give over a million students in over 60 countries access to virtual and augmented reality.
I have helped hundreds of schools implement VR and AR successfully in the classroom, many of whom had never even seen a VR headset before, providing them access to our curated library of VR images and videos, interactive VR scenes, and detailed augmented reality 3D models.
In 2018, we began adding models to our ClassVR Portal platform from Sketchfab, allowing students to view them in their ClassVR headsets. We started with some simple animals and artefacts, however, the response was so overwhelmingly positive from our users that our collection grew ever larger and more ambitious! We now host over three hundred Creative Commons and Public Domain 3D models on our portal and they continue to be one of our most popular and frequently requested resources.
Using Sketchfab for augmented reality in schools
Our users always find exciting and creative ways to use these models in their lessons and since schools reopened, teachers are more eager than ever bring subjects to life by creating unique and engaging experiences that immerse students in the curriculum—something that I am always excited to be able to help with!
Recently, this included working closely with one of our user schools in Somerset, England that was studying the wreck of the Mary Rose in their history class. Their Head of IT approached me for some ideas on content they could use and, within hours, we had sourced a selection of artefacts from the ship and added them into the Portal, ready for use!
The ability to quickly check usage rights, download the model, and copy attribution information—all within Sketchfab—made the process really straightforward, allowing these incredible models to be pushed out onto student headsets in no time at all. I was even able to use the experimental GIF creation tool to generate an animated preview to give the teachers a better idea of the model they are viewing.
The students then used our unique ARcubes to explore the models in more detail. Holding the cube in their hands, they can rotate and examine these artefacts as if they were right in front of them, giving a far more immersive and personal view of the subject. We have seen time and time again how this method allows students to make sense of otherwise complex resources, whether it is fossils, historical artefacts, anatomy studies, or even the orbit of the moon! Creativity and collaboration are at the heart of everything we do—you can see 50 brilliant examples of how our schools use VR and AR in our ‘50 Creative Ways to Use ClassVR’ book, available here for free.
The future of VR education: Avanti’s World
Having just released our latest solution, Avanti’s World, we are looking at even more ways to incorporate Sketchfab models into our students’ and teachers’ daily lives.
Avanti’s World is the world’s first educational virtual reality theme park; it covers a huge variety of curriculum areas and topics, providing students the ability to fully explore 3D environments of historical places, geographical phenomena, and scientific concepts, either through our ClassVR platform or through any device with a web browser. Alongside this, Avanti’s World provides detailed lessons and assessment tools that incorporate in-depth information on the subject as well as embedded images, videos, and 3D models:
By allowing students to take control of the models within the website, we give them the ability to take ownership of the content they are studying and, like with the augmented reality function of the ClassVR headsets, gain a much greater understanding of otherwise difficult-to-understand or impossible-to-handle objects such as animal cells or priceless artworks.
This, combined with our explorable VR scenes, allows students to really experience their learning like never before—imagine being able to walk through a blood vessel and see the cells moving around you before you start learning about the cardiovascular system, or hosting your introduction to World War Two inside an Anderson Shelter in the garden of a 1940s home. With Avanti’s World you can not only send your students to amazing places, you can send them there together in a shared, collaborative environment.
Combining the high-quality resources curated from Sketchfab with our own, in-depth educational knowledge, we have created one of the most engaging and exciting developments currently existing in the world of education, and I can’t wait to see what we can do together in the future!