Case study

Extended reality: the future of education?

Online student Asmaa Sakr has used her MSc in Information Technology to research how emerging technologies, particularly extended reality technologies, can be used in higher education.

Beyond gaming

Asmaa knew she would have to undertake research as part of her course and expressed an interest in extended reality technologies in higher education as a topic. Her experience and interests swayed her towards networking domain projects, however, in discussions with her supervisor Tariq Abdullah, it was apparent that such technologies were predominantly gaming focused.

Rather than be deterred, Asmaa became determined to pursue her ideas, and with the encouragement and guidance from her supervisor she started to learn about extended reality. Combining her eight years of industry experience in Information Technology with her academic studies, she began to research intensively about extended reality’s other uses.

She explains: “I found out that these technologies will be the future of the education. When I experienced one of these technologies with my children, I discovered its importance, especially in the rapid conveying of knowledge.

“Therefore, and from my point of view, owning a tool that can aid in facilitating knowledge to others was enough to be a great motivation.”

Student Asmaa Sakr sitting at computer

From theoretical to practical

Asmaa began her research to find out what extent these technologies can positively impact higher education. She wanted to see how they could bridge the gap between theoretical and practical concepts in the curriculums.

In other words, she was investigating how to change the shape of education with the integration of Extended Reality technologies. This would provide a vivid learning experience that would transform the student from being a passive receiver into a positive interactor and increase their knowledge retention.

To carry out her research Asmaa travelled to the UK from Saudi Arabia for two months. During this time, she was able to access the on-campus facilities at Derby University and received support in the setup of her project.

Not only has the research broadened Asmaa’s ideas and pushed her passion for a modernised approach to education, it has also helped her with her own education.

“During the study, I have learned how to think systematically and how to be more organized when setting my priorities,” she says. “Moreover, I’ve learned how to think critically in any issue that might be encountered and how to discover the ideal solution.”

Students with reflection of computing code over their faces

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Balancing commitments

Pursuing her career goals of becoming a qualified tutor while raising a young family hasn’t come easily. Asmaa found that her studies had slipped down her priority list. In finding our online course, she discovered she was able to balance her family commitments with her career aspirations.

“Studying with the University of Derby Online Learning was one of the most amazing experiences in my whole life, she says. “All the tutors were collaborative and possessed the required expertise in their fields. Additionally, the quick feedback from their side was one of numerous great features.

“On top of that, their encouragement during studying the course has helped in increasing my studying motivation, which ultimately positively impacted my grades.

“Leaving a field such as Information Technology for years and going back to it again was challenging because such career is continuously developing. However, after finishing the course, I have found that all the learning materials have deeply reinforced my previous knowledge with the latest updates in the Information Technology field.

“This experience will undoubtedly help me with giving me more confidence within the industry and within my own knowledge.”