Sunderland College





Sunderland College is part of Education Partnership North East, one of the largest college groups nationally, and prides itself on offering world-class, impactful learning experiences for its students.

As part of a multi-million-pound redevelopment programme at its Bede Campus, the college was looking to upgrade facilities to offer unparalleled learning opportunities through the latest innovative technologies – which is exactly why it turned to Igloo immersive technology.

The product

With this in mind, we worked closely with college leaders to guide the digital transformation and integrate a custom, fully immersive, 7-metre cylinder with full-floor projection at the heart of its newly installed world-class Innovation Space.

The space provides Shared VR environments for students studying a range of vocational subjects, including health and social care, construction, engineering and game design. It also supports the delivery of digitally informed therapies for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The cylinder is comprised of six Epson WUXGA 5,500-lumen laser projectors with accompanying UST lenses, plus two Epson WUXGA 7,000-lumen laser projectors also with accompanying UST lenses, to achieve a flawless finish and the full floor projection the college required. Each projector benefits from 4K enhancement for incredibly high-resolution projection.

Alongside this is a state-of-the-art surround sound system, with the walls of the cylinder sound-proofed to reduce noise transfer between classrooms. It also contains a movable podium for system control, which can be placed inside or outside the cylinder.

In terms of software, the college opted for our Enterprise package, giving its staff and students access to the likes of Igloo Web, Igloo Home and Igloo Cast. Igloo Web has been important in allowing the college to gather content from sites with 360° footage and images, like YouTube and Google Street View – both of which work seamlessly in an Igloo immersive space.

The result

Since its installation, the Innovation Space has been used for existing and new classes, including the recently launched T Level qualifications. It has allowed teaching staff to innovate their approaches to provide enhanced learning experiences alongside increasing student engagement, retention and aspirations.

Because of the fully immersive 360° experience, the college can replicate the real-world and beyond. Students can experience high-risk scenarios in a risk-free way. From being able to visit an offshore oil rig, to a skyscraper in Dubai – students are immersed in new and engaging locations that they otherwise couldn’t experience.

The cylinder also offers a space for better work experience placements by transporting students to real-world settings for training and experience, giving the students the chance to put to practise the skills learnt on their courses.

The students have also been busy creating their own content with several 360° cameras that the college has invested in. Performance students have been able to create their own music videos which they can then watch back in the space and game students have been able to create their own virtual worlds, thanks to our plug-ins with games engines like Unity and Unreal.

And as well as 360° content, the college has been able to make use of traditional curriculum resources in the cylinder. Students can display presentations on the walls of the Igloo and bring in other sources like photos and videos to support these slides, tiled around the vast Igloo canvas. They can work with tools they already use regularly but in a fun and dynamic way.

Going forward

Whilst the space is still fairly new to the college, it’s already well-loved by staff and students and has become an integral part of the curriculum. It has a large demand for people wanting to use it, which has been rapidly increasing over time.

As well as getting to grips with creating their own content, staff and students are beginning to make the most of the variety of integrations our software offers. They’ve begun to use their Igloo with several Microsoft 365 apps, such as Teams and Whiteboard, to allow students to work collaboratively on problem-solving and creative projects across the campuses.

And, we’re proud to say that the space also won AV Project of the Year (Education) at the AV News Awards, which was held at ISE in May 2022.

“Our students are inspired by the possibilities and have a desire to create and collaborate when they are in the Space. They feel extremely privileged to have this excellent resource at their college.”

Dan Fitzpatrick

Digital Skills and Learning Innovation Strategic Lead at Education Partnership North East 

“The whole experience of this process though has been, for us, a really pleasurable and rewarding one because of one thing: the always-available excellent support we’ve received from Igloo.”

Gerard Elder
Learning Innovation Manager at Education Partnership North East 

“The ability to take students out of their traditional classroom and immerse them almost immediately into a variety of realistic yet perfectly safe real-world environments is a complete leap in the way teaching can be delivered for the college. More interaction and greater understanding from students are clear improvements from utilising this enhanced AV environment.”

Robert Griffiths
Consultant at Education Partnership North East

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