A person using a VR headset at UCD.
Trying out a Pico Neo headset for the Virtual Reality for Future Skills course. Image: UCD Innovation Academy

UCD is using VR to teach students skills they will need for their careers

26 Sep 2022

A new course being offered to undergraduates by UCD Innovation Academy will use VR to help them tackle real-life scenarios.

The University College Dublin (UCD) Innovation Academy is running a new programme that teaches undergraduate students career skills through virtual reality.

It is a fully accredited undergraduate module, called Virtual Reality for Future Skills. The aim is to provide training in an immersive way, covering skills such as teamwork, communication and critical thinking.

“The metaverse is billed to become all pervasive and powerful, revolutionising everything from finance to healthcare,” said Eleanor Kelly of UCD Innovation Academy.

“We’re excited to give students from all disciplines a grounding in virtual reality skills and crucially to support them to learn communications, teamwork and leadership and more – skills that will only grow in importance as the metaverse emerges.”

As part of the immersive training programme, students must take on the position of chief operating officer for a fictitious e-bike company. They are then given scenarios pertaining to that role and tasked with solving them. The idea behind the course is to use VR as a tool through which to fully immerse students as they solve problems creatively.

The course is currently being offered to 20 students at UCD. Founding director of the UCD Innovation Academy, Prof Suzi Jarvis, said that the skills these students will learn as part of the programme will stand to them in their future careers.

“We’re excited to launch this undergraduate module, combining cutting-edge technology with an immersive, experiential programme, offering students the dual benefit of nurturing in-demand transversal skills as well virtual reality literacy, a medium we’ll all be working in in the future,” she added.

“Transversal skills globally rank among the most important skills our graduates will need in the future of work; however few universities have dedicated programmes to nurture these future skills.”

The new programme is led by Maurice Knightly, education innovation lead at UCD Innovation Academy.

“Virtual reality gives users a sense of immersion and ‘presence’ in scenarios like the workplace that cannot be created in a standard classroom; it’s the perfect medium for students to practice and learn transversal skills like decision making and analytical thinking in a safe space” he said.

Virtual Reality for Future Skills is part of UCD Innovation Academy’s Convene project. This is funded by the Government’s Human Capital Initiative Pillar III, which aims to rethink how universities and businesses work together.

UCD Innovation Academy partnered with Cappfinity, a strengths assessment company, in developing the VR for Future Skills module.

“Across our client base, which includes a large proportion of the top 100 graduate employers, Cappfinity sees virtual reality playing a key role in the recruitment, development and day to day working lives of employees in the coming years,” said Oscar Lyons, head of VR at Cappfinity.

“Developing the skills that students will need to succeed in this new paradigm is a bold and forward thinking move by UCD and we are excited to be supporting it.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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