Two members of the Telford College teaching team have taken to the stage at one of the world’s most prestigious learning festivals to showcase award-winning healthcare training technology.

Caroline Bastow and Stewart Riddle flew out to the USA to take part a panel discussion at SXSW EDU, which celebrates innovation in the education sector.

They were joined on stage by Tom French and Andy Walker from experience design experts Inizio Engage XD, which has created the virtual reality software being used by the college’s health and social care students.

It presents three virtual reality scenarios – a residential care home, a private residence and a hospital accident and emergency department - which prepare students for the emotional demands of their roles in real-world situations.

For their panel debate, the quartet asked the Texas audience to imagine what it would have been like if the crew on Apollo 11 had been able to rehearse the moon landings in Extended Reality in 1969 - not just the practical tasks, but the emotional challenge of being in such an unfamiliar landscape.

They discussed the power of VR to create memorable experiences without real-world risks and to invoke emotions in a safe and controlled setting.

The event, at the convention centre in Austin, Texas, was an opportunity for leaders in the education sector to network, learn from each other and share best practice.

Caroline, who is Telford College’s head of quality and learning, teaching and assessment, said: “It was a fabulous experience. The session was really well received, and the audience was very engaged in what we had to say.

“We had lots of great questions, and there was a definite interest in exploring ways that this immersive learning technology could be used in other areas of education to prepare people for the world of work.

“The VR experience really is a wow factor which can prepare students emotionally like nothing else.’’

She added: “It has been amazing to be surrounded by so many people who want to improve the outcomes of young people and adults.

“I’ve always understood the power of education, but this event has illustrated the common issues and challenges we share across all continents, demographics and ages.

“Creativity and innovation comes from interaction and collaboration with experts in related fields, so this has been such a rewarding and illuminating experience.”

Janet Stephens, Telford College’s deputy chief executive, said: “It is fantastic to see such a unique and exciting partnership being recognised on the international stage. Everyone involved in this project deserves huge credit.

“This technology is already having a significant impact on our Telford College health and social care students.

“It allows them to bridge the gap between theory and practice, in a sector where it can often be difficult to secure ‘real-life’ placements.”