A first in Singapore, students at Crescent Girls’ School don the Microsoft HoloLens for Biology lessons to investigate the impact of nuclear accidents on the surrounding ecosystems
Taking on the roles of ecologists and geneticists, a class of Secondary Four students at Crescent Girls’ School (CGS) explores a nuclear site and carries out field work as part of their Biology curriculum, an experience made possible by Mixed Reality (MR).
As the first learning experience in Singapore that integrates MR into the education curriculum, the upper secondary Biology module titled Eco-lysis takes an engaging and interactive approach to teach the concepts of gene mutation and food webs using MR. Co-created by CGS, Singapore’s mixed reality start-up Serl.io and built on the Microsoft HoloLens, the module is designed to break down the barriers between digital and physical realities by enabling students to interact with one another, complete tasks and solve problems collaboratively in an MR environment.
Through the Microsoft HoloLens, a fully self-contained holographic computer running on Windows 10, schools and educators can transform abstract concepts into 3D classroom experiences and enable students to learn by interacting with digital content and holograms around them. For example, in Eco-lysis, students can collaborate in teams to collect and analyse water and soil samples after a nuclear accident.
Mr Foo Wen Yeow, the subject head of info-communications technology (ICT) at CGS who was involved in the content development of Eco-lysis, explained that students often struggle with certain topics as the textbooks are inadequate in bringing the abstract concepts to life. “Creating experiential learning was also near impossible,” added Mr Foo.
Through MR, students are immersed in authentic scenarios and are able to simulate the use of advanced laboratory equipment – both of which previously existed only in books and videos.
15-year-old student Inaz Begum from CGS enthused, “The MR experience was very realistic as it felt like we are at the actual nuclear site. We also got to use advanced equipment such as the genetic sequencer which we have never seen or used before, and this is definitely more exciting than reading about it!”
“Students thrive when they have access to personalised learning and tools that spark creativity. Similarly, the right technology will help teachers put students at the centre of their own learning. And we believe that HoloLens, together with the ingenuity of innovative educators, can unlock limitless potential in students through immersive experiences,” said Ms Chua Horng Shya, Director, Public Sector Group, Microsoft Singapore. “We are excited to see Crescent Girls’ School lead the way in applying mixed reality in their lessons. With this early success, we look forward to collaborating with CGS and Serl.io to empower more educators in Singapore to reimagine the learning experience.”
Educators from various primary and secondary schools will also have an opportunity to try the HoloLens-enabled MR learning experience at the 6th Digital Age Learning Conference (DALC) organised by CGS, during which Eco-lysis will be introduced to over 350 school leaders and educators outside of CGS. Following the conference, Eco-lysis will be rolled out as part of the Biology curriculum to about 180 Secondary Four students at CGS.
“When new technologies are well-harnessed, they are able to completely transform the students’ learning experience and create new possibilities for education that never existed before,” said Mrs Helen Chong, Principal of CGS.
“Beyond providing learning content for students, we are also empowering teachers with a management system to help them run and manage MR sessions in class more effectively,“ said Mr Terence Loo, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Serl.io.
CGS is currently in partnership with Serl.io to create Singapore’s first MR immersive learning space – Centre of Cross Reality Learning. Featuring Microsoft HoloLens and other hardware for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, the Centre provides an immersive and collaborative experiential learning experience for the 21st century learner.