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Crawley College to provide innovative immersive learning spaces

28 September 2023

Crawley College has partnered with BT to provide a suite of new state-of-the-art immersive spaces, to take learning to the next level.

The college will be opening four new Immersive Spaces, 5G-enabled interactive simulation experiences which have been designed and developed by BT and Immersive Interactive Ltd and combine 360 video and computer-generated content with lights, sounds and even smells!

They will introduce Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Extended Reality (XR) to simulate real-life environments to enhance and expand learning opportunities for students.

Sally Challis-Manning MBE, Principal of Crawley College, said: “It’s our aim to drive innovation in education, both as a college and as part of the largest college group in our region.

“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.”

BT’s Immersive Spaces are fully supported by EE’s 4G and 5G network and use cameras and HD projectors to bring 360° content to life across the space’s walls and floor. Each space comes with a content library of more than 3,000 computer-generated scenarios, real-life environments, games and training experiences.

With 5G, users can live-stream content from a real-life location directly into the BT Immersive Space. Where this isn’t possible, they can download content and store content over 4G or even fixed fibre.

Alex Foster, Director of BT’s Division X, said: “We are excited to be working with Crawley College to provide these immersive spaces, which are a game changer for learning and development.

“The power of the technology means you are only limited by your imagination, and you can be transported virtually to any location, anywhere in the world. Imagine exploring the depths of the ocean, inspecting Pyramids of Egypt, or walking on the surface of Mars, all without leaving the classroom.

“The college’s students will benefit from the learning in an environment that offers richer and more interactive experiences that can take education to the next level.

“This isn’t just education; it is education amplified – opening doors to new dimensions of knowledge and understanding. Our immersive spaces stand as a treatment to the limitless potential of technology, reshaping the boundaries of what is possible.”

The BT Immersive Spaces are being funded by Crawley Borough Council’s Towns Fund programme, through the Government Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which has been designed to help drive the town’s economic recovery and investment in skills.

Councillor Atif Nawaz, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, Crawley Borough Council, added: “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.

“This marks the beginning of a multi-million pound investment into Crawley College, with plans for a ‘Green Village,’ a Decarbonisation Academy, and the future launch of the Institute of Technology.”

It’s the first stage of a multi-million pound investment project into Crawley College, that is putting the college at the forefront of innovation.

Over the coming three years, it will see the introduction of a ‘Green Village’ – a construction skills hub with a focus on sustainable technologies and will include a Decarbonisation Academy, as well as the launch of an inclusive Crawley College Media Hub which will create a production hub for the college and it’s wider community to access.

This runs alongside the opening of the Sussex and Surrey Institute of Technology, which will see a dedicated facility built at Crawley College to further STEM training in the local area.

Andrew Green, Chief Executive of Chichester College Group, said: “This is an extremely exciting time for the group, and for Crawley College in particular.

“We want to be a leader in educational innovation, and when we merged with Crawley College six years ago we said we were committed to developing and investing in the college.

“Through support from organisations and industry leaders, we’re delivering on that promise, from the opening of our STEM Centre in 2021 (supported by Coast to Capital) to these fantastic immersive spaces.

“Not only is this important for the college, but it will also make a difference to the community and to employers in the area – equipping young people with the skills that local industry needs.”