Studio 39: A Virtual Reality Learning Environment

Lead Research Organisation: Glasgow School of Art
Department Name: School of Simulation and Visualisation


The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and digital studio ISOdesign have successfully completed an interdisciplinary pilot project funded by the AHRC's call on 'Next Generation of Immersive Experiences'. Our main outputs from this project were an initial set of design guidelines for immersive experiences in the museum sector and an AR and VR experience based on the history of the GSA's Laocoon plastercast statue that was designed and developed using these guidelines. These AR and VR experiences will be demonstrated at the AHRC showcase event at the University of York in December 2018 and at Europe's premier AR/VR conference - EuroVR in London in October 2018. In addition, we will be presenting our findings and demonstrating our AR and VR experiences at the symposium: Intangible Matters: Mackintosh, Authenticity and Conservation in Glasgow in October 2018.

We now wish to extend the work and outcomes of this first project by engaging in a series of dissemination and impact activities around our concept of a virtual learning environment: Studio 39. The aim of Studio 39 is to allow distinct user groups such as art students, school children, visitors to galleries and museums the opportunity to "deep dive" into content rich immersive virtual environments using a range of archival assets such as 3D object scans, videos, images and digital documents. These activities are based on the central aims of designing and evaluating a proof-of-concept Studio 39 virtual learning environment and explore new business models and potential revenue streams from this type of application in art and design education (tertiary and secondary school) and wider audience engagement for cultural institutions.

Planned Impact

Who might benefit from this research?
Multiple parties will benefit from the research, including professionals in the VR/AR/Immersive sector, industry professionals in management/promotion/exhibition roles in the heritage and cultural sector, academic staff in HEI's looking at immersive technologies for teaching and research purposes, non-academic user-groups including children, adult heritage and cultural visitors. This is an overview of potential beneficiaries, and how they will benefit from our research:
Academic beneficiaries:
This follow-on research will take a cross-disciplinary approach and will benefit academic researchers within the fields of design, heritage, exhibitions and diverse facets within the area of digital technology, specifically AR & VR content development.
Non-Academic Beneficiaries:
Non-academic beneficiaries of this research will include professionals in the VR/AR/Immersive sector, industry professionals in the design sector, industry professionals in management/promotion/exhibition roles in the culture and heritage sector, user-groups including children, adult heritage and cultural visitors. Further details of how these groups will be engaged with to ensure impact can be found in the Pathways to Impact attachment
How might they benefit from this research
Adult heritage/museum/cultural visitors and users: Our proposed research aims to open up immersive experiences for 'general users' through overcoming obstacles and potential barriers to the use, exploitation and scaling up of research outputs in the VR/AR/Immersive world. In essence, removing industry obstacles (e.g. not appreciating the importance adopting a user-centred design approach to developing immersive experiences) and developing knowledge through enhancing our initial set of design guidelines from the first project to allow heritage professionals to more easily utilise the technology, will bring VR/AR immersive experiences to the fore for a general audience to engage with, enjoy and be inspired by.
Children:and schoolteachers This project's specific user-testing with children (and teachers) in stage 4: engagement and evaluation activities (please see case for support), considers the unique requirements for children in terms of qualitative issues such as engagement with cultural and heritage narrative in different ways in. Especially as the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland has a key theme of teaching schoolchildren about the importance of cultural heritage and where Scottish cultural heritage sits in an international context. This follow-on research will benefit this group (and can be extended to schoolchildren across the UK) with regard to these specific learning requirements of the curriculum and aims to open up the learning experience of children in an engaging, accessible, safe way.
Design Industry professionals: Enhancing the design guidelines we developed in the first project and putting forward a potential business model as an outcome from this project our dissemination and impact activities will show national and international parties involved with this technology how to overcome and better understand the complexities involved in creating and deploying AR/VR/Immersive experiences. Thus providing a framework to allow it to be exploited more widely amongst their audiences.
Industry; culture and heritage professionals: We will undertake further consultation and user-testing with Museum designers, Visitor experience operators, Exhibitions staff and Heritage and Culture Managers in the context of this group being end-users, key stakeholders and influencers and the project will benefit them through research into delivering a more practical and considered way of deploying Immersive experiences in a real-life environment.


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Title Studio 39: a VR learning experience 
Description This is a VR experience that allows school children to find out Mackintosh building at The Glasgow School of Art. when the children enter the building (using a VR headset), they are presented with a map and they can choose to visit three rooms: animal room, library and sculpture room. If they choose the animal room they will find out about how various animals have been used in the past at GSA to help students learn to draw. The children can then use Google tilt brush to try to paint one of the animals (which is life-sized in the room). They can then keep their drawing as a file and print it out if they wish. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact The aim will be to apply to Arts and Business Scotland for a grant to take Studio 39 on a tour of Scotland: Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow, Hebrides, Morayshire, Argyll to allow other school children to have the opportunity to have the studio 39 VR experience. 
Description The key aim of this award was to engage school children with a VR educational experience around the Mackintosh building and its history as part of The Glasgow school of Art. WE have succeeded in this as we engaged school children with the design process (rich pictures co-design method) and we are now in the process of showcasing it to different groups of school children and looking for ways to extend the impact of this work. This will take the form of seeking additional funding to work with group of school children from across Scotland to help us in co-design workshops to produce the VR experiences for other rooms in a virtual Mackintosh building (e.g. embroidery room).
Exploitation Route The idea will be look for ways to encourage teachers to use design thinking in their approaches to projects they give their pupils.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description School visit to showcase the Studio 39 VR experience 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact WE took the Studio 39 VR experience to st Philomena's primary school in Glasgow to allow schoolchildren to engage with the experience and get their feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description This event was called Beyond: The R & D conferences for the creative industries which was held in Edinburgh in November 20-21st 2019. This event was organised by the AHRC creative industries team. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I was asked to showcase my studio 39 VR experience at this event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019