The City of Helsinki and Korkeasaari Zoo have chosen virtual studio Zoan to develop XR content for the rainforest section of the zoo’s two tropical houses. Korkeasaari Zoo wants to tap into the potential of virtual reality technology to grow its user experience, especially through the building of an interactive learning path for school groups. The collaborative project brings together experts from different fields to build an integrated and inspiring learning environment.
The innovation competition for the design and creation of the learning environment was won by Helsinki-based virtual reality studio Zoan. The choice was influenced particularly by Zoan’s expertise in the utilisation of different virtual reality technologies and the company’s previous implementations for education and learning use. The co-creation process has now been started with the aim of creating content that will support the environmental studies of comprehensive school pupils. The interactive learning environment will also be made available to all visitors to Korkeasaari Zoo, such as families, adults and young people.
The XR learning path to be co-created by users, experts and Zoan will support the design and implementation of Korkeasaari Zoo’s new rainforest hall (Uusi Tropiikki) while also serving the users of the current tropical houses. The aim of the pilot project launching now is to develop XR content for the rainforest sections of the two existing tropical houses, Africasia and Amazonia. Zoan’s expertise in building high-quality virtual environments combined with its experience in creating immersive learning environments was the perfect combination for delivering the desired results.
Virtual reality technologies offer numerous benefits in educational use. A visual and immersive user experience can help illustrate complex concepts in an understandable manner. The pilot project launching now involves utilising XR content that make use of both an interactive virtual environment and the real-world environment.
“The benefits of virtual learning experiences become apparent especially in cases where the thing being taught would be too expensive, dangerous or difficult to learn in a real-world environment. A school trip to the rainforest represents all of these challenges. We wanted to participate in this project in particular because it highlights the benefits and potential of virtual reality technologies. Moreover, we believe that the best results are achieved when solutions are developed in close cooperation with experts from different fields,” states XR Sales Specialist Tomi Laitila from Zoan.
The co-creation will kick off in October 2021 in the form of workshops for experts and schoolchildren. The workshops will be facilitated by Zoan in collaboration with Jukka Rauvola, who has extensive experience in co-creation processes between schools and companies and the utilisation of XR technologies in learning. The workshops will bring together pedagogic experts, teachers and professionals from Korkeasaari Zoo, Zoan and the Economic Development Division of Helsinki to generate ideas, conceptualise and carry out testing on equal footing with schoolchildren from Helsinki from grades 3–6. Families with children will also get to test the product and provide feedback on it at Korkeasaari Zoo before it launches in February 2022.