The Martin Harris Centre (MHC) for Music and Drama at The University of Manchester was experiencing frustrations surrounding the state students left their rehearsal spaces in. They implemented Matterport digital twins to help solve the problem. By having a virtual model of the MHC, students were better prepared to enter and take care of the college.
Ultimately, 183 students have visited the scan — which delivers a more comprehensive look at the music center and a more holistic view of what is expected of them — no fewer than 329 times.
Overview: What The University of Manchester Needed To Solve
The Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama is a rehearsal and performance space for students on The University of Manchester’s campus. It includes two performance locations, namely the 350-seat Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall and the 100-seat John Thaw Studio Theatre. On top of these stunning stages, there are several learning areas and rehearsal rooms for learners to use throughout their college experience.
Rehearsal is a vital part of studying and performing music. The MHC provides this critical element of music practice to encourage student development and ensure overall degree satisfaction. The problem is, MHC staff discovered that rehearsal spaces were often left in an unsatisfactory condition with students leaving food containers or coffee cups on expensive instruments, for example.
Misusing equipment could lead to the need for costly repairs and potentially result in essential instruments being out of commission for long periods of time. When issues were discovered, students didn’t always report the situation to the right person, causing further delays and extra work for staff. This affected the students’ overall experience and increased the team members’ workload.
To turn this trouble around, the university needed a way to present information to students in an engaging and immersive manner. They also wanted to provide learners with an opportunity to get acquainted with the Martin Harris Centre before stepping foot onto the campus for the first time.
The team at MHC began looking for potential fixes to this problem, landing on Matterport as the best solution. The University of Manchester’s archeology department had been using Matterport for their work already, so employing the company’s technology within the music and drama college was a seamless transition. After watching a tutorial video on how to use the technology and equipment, staff members were ready to get to work building their own digital twin.
Approach: How They Used Matterport Digital Twins
The project team — alongside academic stakeholder Alexander Gagatsis, Director of Performance and Alex Shaw, Arts Administration Manager — utilized Matterport to develop a virtual induction module for students to complete before they can access the rehearsal rooms.
They used the Pro3 Matterport camera to capture the three buildings in the MHC. Because the project’s goal was to introduce students to the MHC before they had a chance to physically visit it, the first thing they did was ensure the space was scanned properly to highlight each key feature in the various buildings accurately and holistically.
Next, the team uploaded helpful insights and information for the students to click on and learn from within the digital twin. The model contains insights about the instruments available to students, who the rehearsal suites are available to, and the types of facilities and cohorts at the MHC, as well as a welcome video and snippets of different performances that have taken place at the college.
To make certain the students understand and grasp the information before using the space themselves, they must take a short quiz about what they just read and watched. As the quiz’s aim is to help students learn and retain information rather than to assess them, students are provided with feedback when they answer a question incorrectly. Students can complete the quiz as many times as is needed to achieve full marks.
Only when they have completed the module can they gain access to the rehearsal rooms. Two separate quizzes were created for the two cohorts of students who are allowed access to different practice spaces respectively: these are students enrolled on an academic music course and students who are members of the Manchester University Music Society (MUMS).
The University of Manchester’s Experience Using Matterport
Overall, the team at The University of Manchester adapted to the Matterport technology easily and was able to learn how to use the Pro3 camera and immersive modeling equipment quickly. The team members who worked to build the 3D immersive model found that:
- For students who start university without attending an open day, the scan helps to familiarize them with the space and can ease apprehension.
- Matterport has a user-friendly app.
- The scan is visually pleasing and easy to navigate.
- The camera has a long battery life.
- The scan will have better longevity than a video as you can update labels according to new information, whereas you would have to re-film footage. This is cost effective over time.
While the team had an easy time adapting to and utilizing Matterport digital twins, they did experience some roadblocks that they had to overcome. Some spaces proved to be challenging during the scanning process, such as tiered rooms with repetitive rows of seating which prolonged the scanning process. But, if overlap errors occurred, they were able to delete scan points and rescan the area with more data.
They scanned the buildings for five days. In that time, they learned that they had to stage the room into a kind of set with doors open in the same way and furniture in the same position as the previous scans to avoid overlap errors or inconsistencies.
Ultimately, the MHC was scanned and finalized within the target time and was ready for the students to use in the coming school year.
Results: What Happened After Incorporating a Digital Twin Into Student Induction
The MHC’s digital twin has been used for one full college term, giving students the chance to learn more about the center before booking a rehearsal space and allowing them to better understand what’s expected of them
The digital twin was originally sent out in an administrative email to all students from The University of Manchester. This digital correspondence kindly asked the students to immerse themselves in the technology and take the quiz once they had learned the necessary information to pass it.
Going into the second year of using the Matterport platform, the college plans to highlight the 3D model in a more public learning space to widely inform students about its existence and let them easily access it when they need to. But, even with only one year under the digital model’s belt, the scan has already been visited 329 times by 183 students, and 143 students have completed the online quiz.
The sheer number of learners who have used the content isn’t the project’s only clear benefit. After knowing who to report incidents to and what cleaning requirements apply to them, students have been leaving the rehearsal spaces in much more pristine conditions. This actively protects the historical and valuable instruments being stored in this area and provides a better experience for students and staff alike.
"The quiz and scan have been invaluable. The scan itself introduces first-year students to our building. [They] engage in a productive exercise with the quiz, which keeps them entertained in August/September before their arrival. Most importantly, it has saved me and my colleagues considerable time in answering emails. A lot of knowledge was lost during the pandemic (‘how do we go about in the building?’), but now, with the quiz, we can slowly reintroduce them to good practice (how to safely store instruments, who to contact for equipment, how to protect our pianos, etc.).
Importantly, because it takes only a few minutes to fill-out, the quiz is something that everyone can easily complete. The scan has also been invaluable as a means of showing our building to prospective applicants who are unable to attend any of our visit days.” — Alexander Gegatis, Director for Music Performance, University of Manchester.
The digital twin is also beneficial for students who can’t take part in open house days. Incoming freshmen and learners who haven’t used the music and drama facilities yet can see where buildings are and get acquainted with the space without having to physically go there.
This eases student anxiety about not knowing what to expect and can give them a clear picture of where the entrances are, where their rehearsal area is, and where they can find help from professors and staff members. It’s also extremely advantageous for people with specific mobility requirements, as they can plan routes around the building ahead of time and locate where there are ramps, push pads, and elevators, for example.
Student Feedback Regarding MHC Digital Twin
The main focus of utilizing Matterport digital twins is on delivering students with an easy and accessible way to find information about the MHC and understand more helpful data regarding the college. The scan accomplishes this and more.
Overall, the students who have taken the quiz and interacted with the immersive model find it easy to find the guidance they need. They can now find answers to their questions at any time, no matter where they are. When the college is locked up or closed for breaks, learners can still get details about the university space that may come in handy.
There are a few elements that people would adjust, though. Student feedback suggests they would like more interactive data and multimedia content like videos. While there are already a few in place, the MHC team has designed plans to add more videos of staff members introducing spaces or instruments, as well as some performance footage.
Two performance videos were included in the project’s first iteration, but the university is excited to increase the depth of the digital twins’ content, which will ultimately deliver more value to the students.
Student feedback also suggested a need for more context on why the induction is vital for their understanding and experience. This led the MHC team to consider hosting the Matterport scan in a familiar format in a central learning environment as opposed to sending a link in an email.
On top of that, establishing learning outcomes could help the students fully comprehend what they’re supposed to be getting out of the digital twin. It was originally designed to be used as an ‘open book’ alongside a quick quiz, so established learning targets could confirm they’ve completed the induction and, therefore, can gain access to music practice spaces.
Utilizing digital twins at the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama at The University of Manchester has improved the usage and care of the rehearsal spaces that are vital for student practice and performance.
Additionally, staff have been able to solve problems quickly and efficiently by showing learners how to report problems when they arise. This has improved employees’ experience and ensured they have more time to focus on what’s really important: teaching students the art of music and drama performance.
The University of Manchester has established a Matterport Interest Group within the Faculty of Humanities eLearning team to further embed in training and develop future digital humanities projects. This ensures that the college constantly looks at opportunities to improve student learning and expand the possibilities for staff and learners’ experience.
Want to see the university’s digital twin in action or take the quiz for yourself?
Access the MHC Virtual Induction here.
Access the quiz here.
Are you interested in improving your patron, student, or staff experience with the use of a photorealistic, immersive 3D model? Contact our team today to learn how you can employ Matterport digital twins in your university or company.