Oxford Launches Project to Reduce Inequalities in Education

Oxford Launches Project to Reduce Inequalities in Education

Angela September 11, 2020
Oxford Launches Project to Reduce Inequalities in Education

Bridging the Socioeconomic Education Gap

Lockdowns are widening the education gap between privileged and underprivileged students across the United Kingdom.

The University of Oxford and Oxfordshire County Council are pursuing a feasibility study to reduce inequalities in educational attainment. We are exploring the ability of immersive technologies to improve the learning experience in UK secondary schools.

The X-Reality Hub booth was a popular destination. There visitors not only engaged and learnt more about the Hub’s activities but also experienced virtual reality and augmented reality applications which were developed by the Hub. The event attracted more than 100 attendees from all university departments and received positive review.

The Approach

The project will recruit secondary school students from around Oxfordshire to join a trial investigating whether inclusion of immersive enhancements to online learning material will improve adherence to and completion of the assignments offered, while also improving educational attainment.

Some barriers which existed prior to COVID-19 have become aggravated since the pandemic, including the lack of access to devices needed for distance learning such as a laptop or a tablet. Since we are targeting schools in deprived areas across the county, this project will rely only on smartphones and a cloud-native mobile application to deliver the experience in the most scalable and cost-effective way.

Why it Matters

Underprivileged students in deprived areas are disproportionately affected when studies are interrupted and the quality of education decreases. One survey found that 43% of secondary school teachers in deprived areas said their pupils studied for less than an hour each day during the COVID-19 lockdown. This compares to just 4% of private school teachers, and 14% of state school teachers in more affluent areas.

The Teams

The Oxford X-Reality Hub harnesses immersive technologies within the University of Oxford for research, innovation, the commercialisation of research outputs, and the development of new skills. The group works within the University by providing development services and consultation, as well as teaching courses. 

Oxfordshire County Council’s Innovation Hub (iHub) identify, test and implement new technologies for positive change within the Local Authority and beyond. Focusing on accelerating the understanding and adoption of new ideas through collaboration, the department secures partnerships with businesses and academia, acting as a catalyst to create a resilient and sustainable future for Oxfordshire.

The Future

The collaboration seeks to assess the reduction in inequality in educational attainment by leveraging immersive technologies.

Our desire is to eventually evolve the feasibility study into a pilot project for a larger number and more diverse group of students. 

Stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses. 

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