Virtual Reality in the Classroom

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

There is nothing quite like experiencing the immersive, exciting, and sometimes overwhelming environment of virtual reality (VR) for the first time.  While typically associated with the gaming industry, VR is currently expanding its reach by branching out to educational markets. In the “Virtual Reality in the Classroom Session,” CNDLS staff members Julie Salah and Barrinton Baynes discussed their experiences incorporating VR into academic environments. They were joined by CNDLS’ Marie Selvanadin, Alfred Schoeninger, Yong Lee, and Joe King to explain the differences between Augmented Reality  and Virtual Reality.

Incorporating VR into the classroom creates unique educational experiences that benefit learning processes and environments. One of the main benefits of using VR in the classroom is the technology’s ability to transport the user to a place or environment that they would not have access to otherwise. This immersive element can help students focus their attention by lessening or eliminating distractions.   

At the TLISI session, Salah shared an Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning (ITEL) project titled I Object!, joined by co-creators  Evan Barba (Communication, Culture & Technology) and Tanina Rostain (Law Center). The project used a web-based card game and a VR-simulated courtroom to allow law students to learn the rules of evidence in a trial. Through the virtual environment, the students gained access to a unique, immersive experience that allowed them to role play as a defense attorney and apply their knowledge to simulated situations.

During the 2016/2019 academic year,  Baynes worked with Sarah Johnson’s (SFS-STIA) Environmental Geoscience class to create immersive videos of students taking and testing water samples from the Potomac River. These videos allowed students with disabilities to experience the trip and lab work despite not being able to attend due to safety reasons.

Following the short presentation, attendees got the chance to experience AR and VR for themselves. With different headsets like Google Cardboard, HTC’s Vive, Google’s Daydream, and Microsoft’s Hololens, everyone experienced environments from Johnson’s class videos to an alien invasion, from a bow and arrow mini game to other 360 video content they could find online. Baynes pointed out that 360 video cameras and other VR equipment could be checked out of Gelardin and used on campus, so be sure to visit them to experience VR and AR for yourself!