Karu: Introducing the Metaversal Library for the Future of Immersive Learning

Concurrent Session 7

Brief Abstract

As education moves inexorably toward fully immersive, connected experiences, it is important to ensure openness, transparency, and collaboration. Karu (formerly XRpedia, the eXtended Reality encyclopedia) is an ongoing project that seeks to do precisely that. This session will introduce the project, its motivation, and the roadmap ahead.

Presenters

Dr. Ryan Straight is currently Assistant Professor of Educational Technology at the University of Arizona where he is also a Faculty Fellow and Honors Professor. He holds a PhD in Instructional Technology from Ohio University, where he also earned his MEd in Cultural Studies in Education and a BS.Ed in Integrated Language Arts. He teaches fully online at the undergraduate and graduate levels in topics like game design and development, human-computer interaction, designing online learning environments, and statistics and data visualization. Dr. Straight also serves as a Social Media Advisor for ISTE and writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education on mobile learning technologies, augmented reality, and social presence in online education. He lives in Tucson with his wife and three dogs.

Extended Abstract

What is extended reality? Who lives and works in the metaverse? You have a great idea for a VR project, but with whom do you connect? And how? Why should you even consider this extended reality space to begin with?

These are questions we ask as a working research group of faculty and students at a major R1 university. To answer these, we envision a project known as Karu (formerly XRpedia). This platform is a place where people, projects, locations, services, even funding and employment opportunities exist to connect researchers, developers, instructors, and especially students in ways that will drive innovation in the metaverse. One main goal of Karu is to be user- and learner-focused, in that everything within it–hardware, companies, you name it–always comes back to the people. The importance of finding a way to make these connections within the metaverse, itself, cannot be overstated. Doing it in such a way that is accessible, secure, dependable, and sustainable is a driving force behind Karu.

What is the “metaverse” and how does it apply to online learning? It encompasses virtually (pun intended) all experiences within the space of online learning: virtual and augmented reality, persistent digital spaces like discussion forums or Zoom rooms, even the entirety of the internet and every way in which it is utilized.

It is our hope that, as we develop and continue to shape Karu, attendees to the session–experts in online learning that they are–will provide great food for thought, both for us as the developers and for one another. This session will be primarily an introduction to the project, as well as a look at the roadmap for where it can and will go.