Students offered soft skills training thanks to VR technology 

The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship is using emerging technology to enhance the student experience thanks to the Bodyswaps Research Programme from Meta.  

Bodyswaps is an award-winning soft skills training platform on which students can practice and develop their communication, teamwork and leadership skills. Bodyswaps offers a number of off-the-shelf simulations for students to learn soft skills in realistic environments using VR goggles. 

Students can then ‘body swap’ to view how they reacted in the simulation, providing valuable feedback to them for job interviews, teamwork situations or communication skills. Students can learn about aspects such as eye contact and body language which could help them become more confident communicators. 

Dr Sharon Lemac-Vincere (pictured) is an academic in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and was approached by the company to work with the technology in order that they can learn more about how students engage with it and how it can be used in an educational setting. 

“We were one of the universities and business schools approached to take part in this project. We were really interested and put in a proposal for what was a very competitive process and were delighted when told we’d been successful.” 

Strathclyde was one of several business schools and universities across the United States and the UK to be approached to work with the new VR technology. 

Sharon will be working alongside Dr Fahim Ahmed in the Department of Management Science to use the technology with students, enabling them to enter this virtual world and enhance their soft skills. The programme provides feedback to the students on how successfully they engaged in the virtual world - they can see for themselves how they reacted, providing a valuable learning experience for the students. 

Meta will be learning from the students’ use of the technology in terms of how they react to it, what works and doesn’t in order to improve the programme. 

Sharon and Fahim will be helping the students engage with the technology and will also be carrying out their own research into how the technology is used and received for a research project of their own. 

Sharon explained, “We’ll be working together on the Bodyswaps Research Programme. Meta have offered this in order to carry out research on it, capturing anonymised data on how the technology is used and, at the same time, we’ll be doing our own research. We’ll be looking at how the students engage with it, how long they use the technology for, how often they do so – all good, live feedback which is interesting for us in terms of our own research interests. We’ll be looking at whether the programme provides valuable feedback and whether it’s tailored to the students’ age, gender, cultural background and so on. 

“It’s great to use technology such as this but we also mustn’t lose sight of the importance of the human personality too. We’re really excited to get started and provide our students with what I’m sure will be a valuable learning experience for all.” 

The students will start getting to grips with the technology this month before working with it on a more regulated basis next term over the six month research period. 

Published: 9 November 2023

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University of Strathclyde
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