The event was a collaborative effort. World of Comenius itself was coded almost entirely by Tomáš “Frooxius” Mariančík, the talented developer and designer behind the impressive Sightline series of demos. Mariančík teamed up with Karel Hulec, CEO of VR Union, the company that brought you the RiftUP DK1 upgrade kits.
Like me, they both had poor experiences at school and loved VR. They figured they could help make learning and teaching better, using VR to increase engagement and aid better understanding of subjects. And so, World of Comenius and a new development company, Solirax, was born.
With the help of Petr Klán, Csc. from the Czech Technical University in Prague, a dialogue was started with the Mendel Grammar School which culminated in the project. The school is to be a long term collaborator, holding onto two of the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion units so that they can continue to follow the evolution of World of Comenius. Also, an educational robotics specialist Jiří Šretr, CEO of Mechatronic Education donated nVidia GTX 970 GPUs to power the experiences.
The World of Comenius team have big plans for the project which include developing the building blocks to allow schools to construct their own lessons and spaces in which to collaborate on ideas and share knowledge.
“It is an educational platform, where both students and teacher can build their own educational experiences and share them with others, right in the VR!” Mariančík told me. “Our goal is to provide a set of tools to easily build VR worlds with focus on education and scientific communication/visualization. Students can be carrying out tasks, solving puzzles or playing mini-games in these experiences. Future content will then depend on the students, teachers and community.” A noble goal indeed, one that a 14 year old me would very much approve of.
Czech Media Take Note
The first event held on October 20th was also attended by an interested selection of media, including the national public television broadcaster Česká televize (see below report). Some of the nation’s universities also attended to see first hand what the next generation of teaching technology might look like. Coverage was positive as was the reception of the technology by all.
What’s more, despite a full day of heavy VR sessions to a largely uninitiated audience, not a single case of VR / motion sickness was reported during the VR Biology lessons themselves. A pretty good day for virtual reality.
So where next for the World of Comenius team?
“Our goal is to make this educational platform available to everyone, even 3rd world countries. We believe that goal to better life and society is access to information and helping people understand the world around them better” says Mariančík. “We are looking for partners in Europe, USA and other countries who are interested in spreading this project and using it for education (not just schools, but also company schooling/training) in various countries, funding will help us tremendously as well.”
We’ll stay in touch with the developments on World of Comenius and Sightline to see how things develop.
All Photos Courtesy of Patrik Kavecký