Big Brother style interactive pod helps students to learn

Students from City Academy in Norwich are getting the chance to learn in a new interactive pod decked out in the style of television's Big Brother diary room.

The hi-tech pods have been designed to help students learn and also to encourage them to share their feelings on a variety of subjects within a virtual world.

Made up of green screen special effects the pod is sensor controlled and uses PISCES technology, developed by Norfolk events company, Xenodu Ltd, and is housed inside the pod.

Paul Strickland, director, explains PISCES acts as the brain, and said: 'It's an integration of camera and video special effects processing into an integrated unit.'

It has proven popular with young students at City Academy who have been queuing up to watch another pupil read poetry from the 32' screen.

Emily Ireland, a year 9 pupil from City Academy, said: 'Sometimes poetry can be mega-boring but the pod is a fun, modern way to learn, understand and enjoy poetry. Stepping inside the black pod of wonder feels like stepping into the diary room of Big Brother. It really does bring poetry to life and allows you to explore poetry in a way you never have before: interpreting feelings and meanings.'

Once inside the pod a sensor is activated and a voice starts talking without the user having to press any buttons. It asks the user questions about what they thought of the chosen subject, for example poetry, and how they feel about learning it.

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Mr Strickland believes that it is the surprise element that makes the technology so popular and effective.

He said: 'It's a private and comfortable little space where you can go inside and have a talk to the pod.

'Using special effect surprises them and engages them in a way which normally in the class perhaps they wouldn't be able to achieve that level of engagement.

'Young people enjoy learning in an exciting and different way. Because it's a private, they feel confident in sharing their opinions, meaning their learning in enhanced and honest feedback is gained.'

Other client of Xenodu Ltd are the NHS and BBC and the pod belongs to the Academy's lead sponsor, City College Norwich, but has been lent to the Academy to support its Digital Technology specialism.