Bridging Cultures: Creating Virtual and Augmented Reality for Global Collaborative Learning

Concurrent Session 3
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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Virtual and augmented reality offer immersive environments to experience new places and ideas. Find out how students at universities in the USA and Romania learned about each other's cultures by creating and sharing original VR/AR experiences. Take home tools and techniques for introducing AR/VR in your classroom.


Mark Frydenberg is a Senior Lecturer of Computer Information Systems at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He also serves as the Director of the university’s CIS Sandbox, a technology social learning space that prepares students to succeed in a technology-driven business world. Mark teaches courses in digital literacy, web development, and technology trends. His research focuses on flipped and collaborative learning, and pedagogies for engaging students with technology. Mark is also an author of Technology for Success and Discovering Computers, technology concepts textbook published by Cengage Learning. Mark frequently presents on teaching and learning with new technologies at conferences and training events throughout the US and Europe.

Extended Abstract

Universities today must prepare students for working in the global economy and the latest technologies that they are likely to encounter. Industries from auto sales to tourism are embracing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), as tools for engaging customers and training workers.

To introduce students to these digital technologies in a global collaborative context, students at a New England Business University enrolled in IT 101, Introduction to Information Technology, paired with fourth-year students at a Romanian Technical University enrolled in a Technology of Multimedia course to explore uses of AR and VR.  In this session, you will see the actual AR and VR experiences that students created for their partners, enabling them to visit locations of cultural interest such as train stations, places of worship, coffee and retail shops, museum exhibits,  and other historic site in each other's home cities.  You will experience the student's' reactions as they discuss cultural similarities and differences during a video call with their international partners.  You will learn how students navigated the challenges of  online meetings and significant time zone differences, and see the online communication and collaboration tools they chose as they worked together for 8 weeks during the Fall 2018 semester to complete the project. 

Rather than using readily available VR content, students created their own immersive learning environments for their international partners, developing original VR scenes using a simplified development tool called CoSpaces EDU.  Students also created Augmented Reality (AR) content to share information about their landmarks and locations using a variety of AR apps such as ROAR, Blippar, and HP Reveal. The process of researching a cultural landmark, creating and communicating that experience in a digital reality scene, critiquing similar content created by international partners, and discussing similarities and differences requires students to combine digital content, images, and information into a tangible product that provides evidence of their learning about and ability to create digital reality experiences. Team members reflected on their own learning and how they and their group worked through problems and challenges.  The TalkTech project requires students to apply their digital skills as they become creators of deeply engaging digital reality content.

Each instructor made a virtual appearance in the other instructor's class at the beginning of the project by Skype to introduce the project, and to debrief with students at the end. Thanks to a coincidence in class meeting times and the seven-hour time zone difference, two groups presented their projects together over Skype to a joined classroom of both American and Romanian students.

The work is based on a model for digital literacy by Steve Wheeler, which presents competencies for students to engage responsibly in a technology enabled world.  We will discuss how these characteristics are manifest in the project.

For more information about our project, please see 

Structure of the Session:

Presentation (30 minutes, allocated approximately as follows: )

15 - 20 minutes. Presentation and Videos.  I will share information on the TalkTech project, requirements, student backgrounds, tools used, and learning outcomes from the project.  I also will include videos of actual student work, as well as conversations between American and Romanian students work as they critique each other’s' projects and discuss the cultural similarities and differences that they learned after "visiting" similar locations in each other's countries. To engage the audience, I will ask participants to identify the digital literacy skills they see evident in the students' original work.

10 - 15 minutes:  Demonstration and Interactive AR/VR Experience 

I will demonstrate VR and AR creation tools, such as Layar, Blippar, or CoSpaces and show how to create a scene using these tools. Those who have devices might follow along. I'll pass around a few Google Cardboard headsets so participants can experience the VR in a low budget immersive environment. 

I will invite participants to download and install some of these apps on their mobile devices, and provide in the slides or handouts QR codes or base images to scan so they can experience some of the digital reality artefacts that students created. 

5 minute Reflection. I will share lessons learned from an international collaborative project, teaching tips and challenges. I will reflect on the value of placing students in the role of content creators to promote digital literacy. 

10 minutes:  Q & A:   During Q&A I will invite participants to consider how they might extend this project to their own disciplines. 

Level of Participation:

  • Everyone is welcome.  Participants who have mobile devices can install some of the apps presented on their mobile devices to follow along throughout the demonstration and interactive portions of the session.

Session Goals

Participants will be able to discuss:

  • tools to create and ways to incorporate AR and VR content in the classroom
  • experiences in leading a global collaborative learning project
  • how students can demonstrate digital literacy skills by creating AR and VR experiences
  • strategies to use student-created AR and VR content in their own classrooms across disciplines

Links to Share:  

Handouts and Materials:

  • Slides to be made available online
  • Handouts with QR codes for easy scanning to access VR scenes created with CoSpaces
  • Handouts with base images for scanning to experience AR content
  • Google Cardboard viewers (to use during the presentation -- I'll bring a few)