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PleitVRij: Students pleading in a virtual courtroom

18 May 2022
It must have been an extraordinary experience. You put on your virtual reality glasses and suddenly you are in the oldest courtroom in the Netherlands, the Groningen courthouse. In the last two weeks of April, more than 200 students from the VU University Faculty of Law held their pleadings in this virtual environment.

The project, titled PleitVRij, which started in 2018, is aimed at law students from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the University of Groningen and the University of Utrecht (University Law College). The special thing about PleitVRij is that the participants meet each other live in the virtual court via Virtual Reality (VR). Students practise pleading not in a university classroom, but in a 'lifelike' environment. From the point of view of the pleading student, the Groningen courtroom including the audience is filmed 360 degrees. This contributes to a realistic practice experience. Fellow students watch and give feedback. There is close cooperation with the law faculty where teacher Hedwig van Rossum has integrated this technique into her subject and has coordinated the educational programme with other institutions. 

Follow-up project 

Teachers and education support staff from five different institutions came to see PleitVRij in action. There is widespread interest in joining the follow-up project that has just been approved by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. This project will start in September 2022 and last for two years. In this project, we will make an additional 360-degree recording so that the 'judge' - another student - can also practise through VR glasses. In addition, the application will be further developed so that students can also provide feedback from home. Not only educational institutions are interested in PLeitVRij; the judiciary and the bar association are too. This is shown by a recent article (Dutch) in Trema, the magazine of the Dutch Association for the Judiciary.  

More applications 

With PleitVRij VU Amsterdam takes a big step into the world of virtual reality. Educational research is being done into the added value of VR. In addition to pleading before a virtual court, VR is also used - in collaboration with the police academy - to help students who have difficulty speaking in public. VR also offers interesting possibilities in fields other than law. For example, medical students can take a virtual look into the operating theatre and earth scientists can go on a virtual excursion.  

 Read more on the project page on Surf.nl

PleitVRij - Good examples Teacher professionalisation

PleitVRij is a partnership between Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the University of Groningen and the University of Utrecht. In this way the universities make it possible for their students (Law) to practice their speaking skills in a completely new way. How? By creating a courtroom in Virtual Reality. Video is in Dutch.

Do you have questions about this teaching method or do you want to experience VR yourself? Then please contact Sylvia Moes

s.moes@vu.nl