The Scientific and Educational Center "Digital Technologies in Education" of the Higher School of Management of St. Petersburg State University in cooperation with SAS MA students conducted an experiment that helps objectively assess the benefits of the use of immersive technologies in training presentation skills and working with large audiences. 

The experiment included about 60 participants, first-year SAS BA students that filled in a questionnaire and tested their skills in delivering information. As an additional criterion, their stress levels during public speeches were measured. The students were divided into three groups in such a way that each group included both confident and novice speakers. Then the groups spent two weeks preparing for an important presentation in English (their Topics of the First Year presentations) before the expert commission based on an individual program. Group 1 rehearsed in front of virtual audiences in VR glasses, Group 2 participated in offline training sessions, while Group 3 worked individually. The sessions and VR training helped students learn to maintain eye contact with the audience and avoid filler words in their speech. Before and after training, the pulse of each participant was measured. The second stage of the experiment was carried out directly during the participants' TFY speeches. Pre- and post-speech, the speaker's pulse was measured, and experts assessed the quality of speech. In addition to this, a second questionnaire was given to the students to measure changes in their own assessment of presentation skills. The experimenters team is currently processing the data in order to present the results in the form of a scientific publication by the end of the summer.

Rostislav Speransky, Head of the new practice formats of the Research and Educational Center "Digital Technologies in Education", GSOM SPbU: "This is a unique experiment in Russian higher education. I am sincerely glad that it was implemented in close cooperation between GSOM SPbU and SAS. The fact of conducting research directly within the educational process is especially valuable. This was made possible thanks to the flexibility and professionalism of the SAS MA students who participated in the preparation and organization of the experiment." 

Specialists of the Scientific and Educational center "Digital Technologies in Education" believe that when introduced in the educational process wisely, new technological solutions, including VR simulators, can expand the educational experience of students and improve the quality of education without increasing the workload of the professors. The skill of public presentation is developed through training. This means that the more the student trains independently, the more class time the professor will be able to devote to the content of the speech and its academic component, rather than to the development of public speaking rules and techniques. Moreover, immersive technologies can become the basis for the creation of new supplementary education programs.