The Challenge of Deploying VR Experiences at Scale: the Development of a VR Application to Address Classroom Needs

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Learn about one institution’s push to develop a VR application to address the challenge of deploying immersive learning experiences in the classroom. From tackling voice recognition across multiple platforms to working with several student development teams, the end result is a study on lessons learned, interdepartmental partnerships, and future programming.

Presenters

Garamis Campusano currently works for the Center for Advancement of Teaching (CAT) at FIU as their Educational Technology Specialist. In this role, he is responsible for supporting the CAT team as well as faculty and staff on a wide range of tech-related projects and endeavors. He relies on his 8 years of teaching experience in higher ed to support initiatives around the institution and spends a great deal of time developing student-centered curriculum and educational technology programming. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Linguistics, both from FIU.
Eric Simon is a Teaching and Learning Specialist at the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Florida International University, a teaching and learning center focused on supporting student success through culturally responsive, student-centered, and evidence-based teaching practices. Eric has worked to design and facilitate several workshops in support of the center's vision, as well as consulting with faculty on the design of their fully-online and blended courses. Eric is also a graduate student studying Adult Education and Human Resource Development.

Extended Abstract

The increasing demand for higher-ed faculty to teach remote, online, and hybrid courses over the past two years has led to an explosion in the development of asynchronous learning opportunities for students. No longer are faculty strictly focusing on creating the most interactive and engaging learning experiences in the face-to-face classroom, but they are venturing out into the vastness of educational technology. Still, even as faculty continue to skill up and become masters of learning management systems and of integrating LTIs, there is one area that remains somewhat of a daunting challenge: virtual reality.

The need is there, the technology is there, and the current environment is driving Higher-Ed faculty to explore ways to recreate the immersion that happens in an in-person experience, virtually. Consider the learning that occurs when students are able to visit the museum, the courthouse, or the nature preserve. Consider the degree of deep learning and meaningful connections that students are able to form when faculty guide them through those experiences. Now consider what happens when the opportunities to engage in such learning experiences are simply not possible for various reasons: the number of students in the classroom, potential accessibility concerns, or an ongoing global pandemic.

How can higher-ed faculty leverage the power of virtual reality to provide their students with these same kinds of learning experiences safely, asynchronously, and at scale? And how can we at higher-ed institutions provide faculty with the level of support necessary to carry out such tasks?

While it is possible to look for solutions from third-party vendors and see what’s out there, we decided to work internally with students as developers to create our own VR application (Voice VR) in order to tackle these problems. The end result is a study on lessons learned, interdepartmental partnerships, and future programming.

Level of Participation: 

This session will be structured as more of a traditional 25- to 30-minute lecture. The speaker will prepare a presentation that will include a brief introduction and overview of VR, the rationale for developing a VR application, examples of the tool and its function within the classroom, definitions, references to the relevant literature, and insight as to what has worked and/or hasn’t worked throughout the entire development process. The speaker will raise questions at various points throughout the presentation to get the attendees to engage with each other and reflect on the information being given. During the last 15 to 20 minutes, the presenter will answer attendee questions and will provide an opportunity for attendees to re-evaluate their own perceived challenges and solutions to the VR question.

Session Goals: 

Individuals attending this education session will examine the parallels between real-world and virtual experiences and define approaches that bridge the gap between them and lead to better teaching practices. They will examine the challenges that come from implementing VR learning experiences in the classroom and what potential strategies there are to overcome them. They will also gain an appreciation for the value of working with students and partnering with other departments to create a unified vision for a VR application.