The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT Madras) researchers are developing a AR/VR-enabled (Augmented reality/Virtual Reality) learning for schools in rural areas. The researchers are using digital technologies to develop teaching-learning models for the secondary-school subjects.

The initiative’s goal is to develop a VR-enabled immersive and experiential environments where students get opportunities to learn social science, history, sciences and languages. Through AR/VR, the world-building, digital storytelling and games, the learning process becomes efficient helping students prepare even better.

Initially, the project coordinators - Merin Simi Raj and Avishek Parui - created the first AR-based mobile app called ‘MemoryBytes,’ capturing the history of the transnational Anglo-Indian community across 500 years. The mobile app, available in Android and iOS versions, provides an interactive, animated, and augmented experience of photographs, maps, and archival documents, says a release.

Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, said, “This project has the potential to redefine learning and education in schools for millions of rural school students across India by creating immersive experiences through AR/VR technology-enhanced pedagogy.”

By developing pedagogic tools using AR/VR technology, the project could potentially revolutionise education in rural areas by enabling virtual access and mobility through portable platforms. This project could also bridge the ‘Digital Divide’ between urban and rural school students, the release said.

Merin Simi Raj said that the project seeks to build accessible and affordable digitally-enabled immersive learning experiences along with the opportunity to connect with experts working in various fields. The project seeks to build AR/VR supported teaching-learning models which would transcend the barriers of physical classrooms.

Avishek Parui said that these projects are part of the research at the IIT Madras’ Centre for Memory Studies, which works at the interface of humanities, heritage, and technology. We undertake research on adaptive, dynamic, and authentic learning experiences through portable XR tools/products accessible for students, researchers, and the general public.”