Tech for Textiles uses AR and VR to teach students

Blackburn College developed a digital learning solution to aid those working in the textiles industry...

The Tech for Textiles project set out to create a digital learning solution to dispel the myths and preconceptions around working in the textiles industry, to prepare individuals to work in the industry, and to increase the local workforce. It will widen participation in learning by moving away from traditional classroom delivery to a more accessible and engaging environment - using technology to facilitate learning rather than being another barrier. The aim is to bring together education, industry and technology to find a business solution to a recognised industry problem.

The solution created by Blackburn College has two parts. The first is an interactive AR module which enables learners to gain a greater understanding in sewing machine orientation and the sewing machine overlocker. This can be used inside or outside the classroom and allows learners to ‘walk round’ and investigate an industrial sewing machine, with guidance and tips on what the key components are and how they are used.

The second part is the VR Herbert Parkinson factory tour, which allows a user to 'visit' a factory and access further resources such as short videos and talks by employees. This resource had particular impact, with Herbert Parkinson unexpectedly seeing a huge benefit to them whilst site access is restricted, as they have been able to showcase their factory to potential clients and employees.

The digital solution will be used in the classroom from September with plans to encourage and grow usage. Other parts of the college including the team who organise open days are hoping to create a similar resource to showcase the college to potential future students.

Both resources will also be showcased at the British Textiles Biennial in October 2021, an event that attracted over 54,000 visitors in 2019.