Reaching State-Wide with Immersive Telepresence Technology: from the Lenses of an Instructor and the Frames of an Ed Technologist

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Add to My Schedule

Brief Abstract

Alternative teaching modalities are needed for students who may not have access to in person classes, yet do not wish to take classes online.  Immersive telepresence represents an innovative teaching modality for distributed college campuses to educate students.  A discussion of the strengths and challenges of ICL will be discussed.


Thalia MacMillan is an associate professor and department chair of human services at SUNY Empire State College. She received her Ph.D. in social work from Fordham University, specializing in policy and research. For the past 18 years she has worked in the fields of evaluation, research, and practice. Thalia has taught social research methods, program evaluation, social policy, addictions, mental health, disabilities, assessment and diagnosis, and statistical methods. She regularly develops and teaches in multiple modalities, including blended, online, face to face, and immersive cloud learning courses. In addition as volunteering research services to multiple local organizations, Thalia is a volunteer EMT in her community.
Carolina Kim de Salamanca is the Educational Technologist for the New York City Metropolitan region and works primarily with the faculty in the application of technology in student-centered pedagogy, student engagement, and success. Carolina approaches educational technology very much like a musical instrument: with intention, patience, sensitivity and creativity. Her proficiency in music education and educational technology allows her to uniquely assess needs in order to elevate the ways in which technology is embedded into the academic experiences of the faculty and the student. Carolina is the lead educational technologist for the immersive classroom initiative at the college and, among other tasks, researches the ongoing development of education at a distance, both synchronously and asynchronously, in higher education. In addition to serving as the regional educational technologist, she also teaches undergraduate music courses at ESC that give a more holistic view of music, embed technology and encourage the students' growth in digital literacy. Carolina holds a Master's Degree in Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University where she was also a Tech Fellow.

Extended Abstract

Across the nation, college campuses have come to utilize a variety of teaching modalities to meet the educational and curricular needs of students, including online and synchronous face-to-face class delivery.  However, there is a tension that may exist, particularly at colleges that utilize several campuses or locations. Specifically, students may wish to attend face-to-face classes, yet there may be limited curricular offerings in a given semester.  At SUNY Empire State College (ESC), students can attend 35 different locations in order to attend face-to-face class delivery or can attend classes online.  Students wish to have synchronous class delivery, but the faculty at that location may be offering limited classes.  A synchronous class alternative was needed to benefit students by utilizing existing faculty at other locations.

Known industry-wide as immersive telepresence, known as Immersive Cloud Learning (ICL) at ESC, is a one solution.  ICL represents a new mode of teaching where the instructor is based at one location and teaches in real-time to students based at various ESC locations using the ICL technology. This is represents a synchronous, virtual learning environment.     


ICL is unique in that although it is somewhat online, teaching and learning happens remotely and in real time.  Research has shown that students in synchronous virtual learning environments have a normalized experience amongst their remote peers if the instructor is removed from physical proximity of any of the students. As a result, ICL instructor rooms, called the Source Room, were designed to not hold a live audience of students.


The experiences of teaching with ICL will be shared in this education session.  In addition to sharing the experiences of several teachers, the proposed education session will utilize discussions, case studies, and sample activities.  Further, recommendations and experiences about the types of curriculum or training that ICL can be utilized for will be shared and discussed.  The focus of discussion will be around classroom management, engagement, motivation, class participation, activities, and strategies for presenting information.  Sample videos of what the experience is like for students will be utilized as case studies to aid in the discussion.  Handouts of different types of activities and copies of the slides will be distributed.

The goal of the proposed education session is to: 1) help individuals explore what curricular areas, location or distributive frameworks, and type of student may benefit from the use of ICL; 2) help individuals critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of teaching in ICL; and 3) compare and contrast the different types of activities and classroom management strategies that may work in ICL.

The target audience for the proposed session is faculty, educational technologists, administrators, and training professions.