Taking learning to the next level: How educators are using Twinmotion in the classroom
The Unreal Educator Accelerator Program has brought Twinmotion into the classroom, enabling educators to bring an interactive 3D element into their lessons, thereby increasing engagement and making lessons more immersive.
While initially conceived as an archviz tool, Twinmotion is now used by creators across an ever-expanding range of industries. And one place where it’s really making its mark is in the world of education.
A number of educators have already brought Twinmotion into their classrooms as a result of the Unreal Educator Accelerator Program, which helps to unveil Twinmotion, making it more approachable than ever before. This is helping educators to guide their students towards a wider range of different careers, and is bringing an immersive quality to any subject.
We’ve spoken to five educators, and to one of their students, about how they’re using Twinmotion in the classroom to take learning to the next level.
Introducing students to Twinmotion
Healthy competition is always a winning way to capture attention, which is why one educator chose to develop a Twinmotion-based challenge for his students.
Meet Mike Santolupo, a Technological Design Teacher at John Paul II Secondary School in Ontario. Mike’s seen his classes evolve from traditional 2D design to 3D and now real-time technology, and he was naturally taking note of the sweeping digital transformation.
Mike was thinking of ways to create opportunities for his students and decided to apply for and successfully received an Epic Games MegaGrant. At the same time, he needed to find a new rendering tool as the software previously available to him was now defunct, and found Twinmotion to be the most efficient replacement. However, then COVID-19 struck and plans became impossible to implement.
After a conversation with the team behind the Education Accelerator Program, Mike was intrigued by the creation of high school relatable projects that encouraged teachers to explore and learn as much as the students.
This led to the birth of John Paul II CSS Design Slam 2022, an all-day, off-site, open-access student competition that took place in May 2022. Previously, competitions such as these had been limited to invitation-only, so this was the first event where everyone was able to take part.
Mike believes a competition is a fantastic way to introduce a new generation to Twinmotion. “If conditions allow, this one-day activity is incredibly easy for other institutions to adopt and replicate,” he says.
At the start of the day, all students had a choice of completing two projects, either designing a Tiny House, or creating a Bus Shelter.
The competitors were designing and modeling during the morning, and rendering images in the afternoon using Twinmotion. The competitors had absolutely no prior experience using this technology and were judged by former students who are now industry professionals. The competition culminated in the presentation of their designs and the announcement of the winning submission.
“One of the things my students and I love about Twinmotion is how friendly the interface is and the ability to make as many changes as you’d like, on the fly, with instant results,” says Mike.
“As a new software, there was a limited amount of knowledge I could pass on, the rest was down to their own exploration and discovery. It was a really easy tool to introduce,” he concludes.
Learning at your own pace, and being on the same page
Twinmotion enables greater flexibility and a more tailored approach to individual learning.
Being able to work independently, then review collaboratively and share best practices, has introduced a new interactive element in lessons for Matthew Spremulli, a Sessional Lecturer in Design and Architecture at the University of Toronto.
Matthew wanted to solve the challenge of representing a select few design options–created from thousands through Generative Design–in a quick and photorealistic manner. The goal of this solution is to be able to engage with audiences and stakeholders through more qualitative means, to counterbalance the more quantitative representation coming out of Generative Design tools. He discovered Twinmotion through the Education Accelerator Program and saw a workflow that would fit this solution.
Twinmotion is currently being leveraged in a few select courses at the University of Toronto, in combination with Unreal Engine for virtual reality applications. From Matthew’s experiments and tests, there are plans to bring the tool into more courses across multiple departments.
Matthew’s next steps are to introduce Twinmotion as an integral part of the curriculum through two new Design courses in 2023: Generative Design (Winter) and a Landscape Design Studio (Fall).
*Images show examples of Generative Design options with a QR code where the audience can scan it to fill out a feedback form.
Predominantly, students will be taking a shortlist of designs from a generative design output algorithm and bringing their selection to life through careful attention to detail and animation. The designs will ultimately be presented to an external audience for review and comment.
In these graduate-level classes, Twinmotion will be taught in an asynchronous manner, incorporated into both homework and classwork. Students will practice individually at home and then collaboratively review the exercises in class and share best practices, introducing a completely new interactive element.
“The benefit of teaching in an asynchronous manner is everyone gets to learn at their own pace and then we reconvene on the ‘same page’ when together,” says Matthew.
“Twinmotion is just fantastic. Its capability to produce real-time visualizations makes this an invaluable tool, both in the professional world and the classroom.”
He hopes that Twinmotion will revolutionize the way students learn and subsequently the way reviewers, educators, and stakeholders respond through this new, immersive experience.
Exploring local sustainability
Educators are also using Twinmotion as a tool to help students realize the impact of design in sustainable local industry projects.
In a small high school based in New Brunswick, Canada, Ben Kelly is a STEM teacher for grades six to 12. He has seized a unique opportunity to develop a brand new program thanks to changes in the technology curriculum from the New Brunswick Government.
The new program asks students to focus on local industry issues and suggest sustainable solutions. Ben expects students to fully utilize Twinmotion to produce media that promotes local industry, and to present their designs to authentic audiences.
Another Twinmotion-based lesson Ben has introduced this year is called QR Here–Digitally Twinning Our Past, Present and Future.
This innovative project asks students to create a digital representation of a geographic location, or historical or current event, with as much detail as possible, again encouraging students to fully explore Twinmotion’s capabilities.
Once their creation is finished, they produce a QR code which is added to a collaborative Google Map, which will eventually be filled with global digital experiences, made completely in Twinmotion.
When he first discovered the Education Accelerator Program, Ben immediately saw the potential to evolve his teaching style to better match his students, and hopefully inspire other educators to take a new approach and better engage their audience.
Considering the age of his classes, Twinmotion and its real-time technology felt like a natural evolution from the current technology in his students' lives, for example in gaming, the move from Minecraft to Fortnite.
*Image shows example of greenhouse pods on the ocean surface to grow produce, created by Ben Kelly as part of the Dezeen Twinmotion Challenge.
“Whenever I’m using other software, my main thought is that I’d rather be doing this in Twinmotion. We’re excited to have it cross subject boundaries to inject new energy into classrooms” says Ben.
Ben mentions that one of his favorite moments with Twinmotion is when a student looks at their creation with pride and realizes a whole new world of career opportunities, and something like this really could be their future.
Entrepreneurship and Twinmotion
Entrepreneurship is all about disrupting the current market, and Twinmotion is proving to be a useful disruptive tool. With the flexibility of its features and real-time results, the potential applications are limitless.
Melissa Wrenchey teaches ninth grade classes in Entrepreneurship at Lake Washington School District, where the focus is on students working on projects based on prompts, and producing content for different audiences.
Kaavya Trivedi, one of her students, has been taught how to use multiple pieces of software to create content and deliver her projects; however, both Kaavya and Melissa have a strong preference for Twinmotion.
In one memorable project, Kaavya, as part of a team, had to design an auxiliary dwelling unit as a sustainable housing solution for the local area.
There were two elements, the first where the team had to create the design using laser-cut cardboard, and the second where they built the same design in Twinmotion. This also included placing the building within a community setting and developing a pitch for the project.
“Whilst Twinmotion was definitely a learning curve, being able to create and then step inside buildings was amazing,” says Kaavya. “It made me account for things I’d never thought about before, like scaling. The UI is brilliant. I have some attention and focus issues and for me, this was really straightforward.
“When comparing our results, I found the cardboard version of our house to be far less accurate. It was also more difficult to visualize the end results throughout the process, and to understand the dimensionality.”
Melissa is also enjoying exploring Twinmotion. “I’ve used Twinmotion for various projects myself, at the moment I’m investigating more efficient routes for parents to drop off their students and I’m still discovering new features and tools.” she says.
“With my students, I’ve found all I need to do is visually demonstrate the project, and then they produce content that is infinitely better and more creative than mine.”
Through the Education Accelerator Program and using Twinmotion, Melissa has had a number of new ideas for classes with prompts like this, designing sustainable environments and buildings and presenting their results with an architectural flythrough.
Twinmotion gives students the opportunity to make professional content and start building their portfolio. By putting the tool directly in their hands and letting them explore their own ways of using it, rather than employing a set textbook approach, students are empowered to build something from start to finish, with full creative potential and control.
Breaking down subject barriers in education
Educators are using Twinmotion in increasingly innovative ways, transcending traditional subject boundaries within the education environment.
A part of the London District Catholic School Board in Ontario, Jim Pedrech, an Innovation and STEM Consultant, discovered the Education Accelerator Program through his love of experimenting with video game creation using software similar to Unreal Engine. “I found Twinmotion to have a perfect balance between an elegant design and ease of use, and the immersiveness of the tools completely drew me in,” he says.
Jim believes the program is a perfect fit for education, fostering an environment where teachers can immerse students in their lessons and let them create content, rather than directly teaching a class.
Part of Jim’s role as Innovation and STEM Consultant is to break down silos between subjects and remove the traditional “we teach Math like this and English like this” approach. He finds Twinmotion excels at teaching across a number of subjects and that it helps students develop transferable skill sets.
Twinmotion enables students to tell stories by creating realistic content, in very little time. So far, Jim’s primary focus has been on photogrammetry and historical recreations, having created a highly accurate replica of an outdoor museum in Germany, assembled using scanned models from Sketchfab and reference maps.
Duppel Village: video by Jim Pedrech, models by City Museum of Berlin
He sees the potential for Twinmotion to be used much widely in schools, for example, for lighting and scene blocking in drama lessons, or for testing various hypotheses, or even recreating the solar system in science class.
*Image shows a Haudenosaunee longhouse created by students.
It’s clear to see just how far-reaching the uses and potential applications of Twinmotion can be in the education field. Forward-thinking educators are using Twinmotion in creative ways, removing the traditional subject barriers entrenched in the academic sector and helping their students to be more creative, as well as learning useful skills for their future careers.