Members of the council’s cabinet have been to see the first assets purchased under a £4.5 million agreement with Crawley College.
The Invest In Skills for Crawley project will improve job skills training using part of the £21.1 million allocated from the Government’s Towns Fund.
They saw an immersive classroom which uses virtual and augmented reality technology to provide realistic training settings, and house building and fitting mock-ups for learning construction trades with a particular emphasis on environmentally sensitive technologies.
Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of the Council, Crawley Borough Council said:
"We were privileged to see the future of learning at Crawley College thanks to the investment we have been able to make using the Towns Fund. I was hugely impressed by the ambition that the college is showing and the benefits that students and lecturers will gain."
The immersive classroom spaces were installed by BT and use cameras and HD projectors to utilise the floors and walls. Each space comes with a content library of more than 3,000 computer-generated scenarios, real-life environments, games and training experiences. They even have the ability to introduce smells to add to the authenticity.
The spaces can replicate scenarios in environments such as hospitals, construction sites and engineering workshops as well as visiting cities around the world, allowing students to experience ‘in the moment’ situations as part of their training – something they would not have been able to access previously.
Councillor Atif Nawaz, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, Crawley Borough Council said:
"The BT state-of-the-art immersive learning spaces demonstrates a strong commitment to the investment of the Towns Fund grant funds in innovation skills. These immersive classrooms will transform the educational landscape for students and empower them to learn through cutting-edge innovative educational experiences. We are committed to fostering innovation, sustainability, and STEM education for Crawley."
Applications include training paramedic apprentices in handing over patients to emergency department staff or helping students to identify the odour of gasses such as ozone.
Sally Challis-Manning MBE, Principal, Crawley College said:
"These interactive, immersive classrooms really will put us at the cutting edge of technology, providing our students with the opportunity to go on journeys that really challenges their learning and enables them to be fully in the moment. The spaces are adaptable, which means all of our students on all of our courses will be able to benefit – they’ll be in the thick of it and able to experience training on a whole new level. Fundamentally, this will revolutionise the way we teach and the way our students will learn."