I wanted to touch base after having used your VR program to give you some feedback. The students LOVED it. They thought it was incredibly eye opening and most came back from the experience almost (or actually) in tears. I have used it with both my 10th graders and my students in my History of the Holocaust class last semester, and one of my colleagues will be opening it up to her AP World History students, as well.Marissa BongoBallston Spa HS filmed some of the students experiencing the journey and also interviewed them afterwards.
I used the Global Languages & Cultures Room to show students the reality of a refugee camp through the VR “Clouds over Sidra”. Watching a video in class would not have given everyone an individualized experience. The VR really let the student get closer to the main character and experience her life in a refugee camp. I prepared specific questions on the video so students’ attention could be guided before even starting the video and we all debriefed together so their individualized experience could be shared together. At the semester debrief, students suggested that I should add more VR experiences in future iterations of the class, as it really helped them understand the reality of refugee camps and thought it would put a clearer picture of life in developing nations. Overall, it was an awesome experience! ” Sophie Le Blanc – Adjunct Instructor, Institute for Politics and Strategy
Introducing faculty to first-time use of Virtual Reality in the Global Languages & Cultures Room.
Over the last few weeks we have run a program of introductory welcome sessions for the Modern Languages Faculty, inviting them to an hour long workshop to familiarize themselves with the new room and some of the technology it contains.
First StepsFor many this was their first visit to the Global Languages & Cultures Room and it was important to provide a short overview and discuss some of the objectives of the space. This flexible space allows for different configurations of tables and chairs and in this workshop we grouped four units together to make a longer boardroom style table to comfortably sit 8-10 people. Pens are paper were left on the tables and used to record comments, keywords and even to highlight concepts, including time-lines and diagrams.
Pre-conceptions of VR
We talked as a group about the promise of VR, whether they had encountered headsets before. Some people had tried Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear experiences, some reporting how they initially felt some dizziness and disorientation. We talked about how widely the term VR is used in the media and often how it is a short-hand for innovation and new technology.
Many of the keywords were technical, thinking about 3D, immersion, transportation, motion sickness – but less about the experience itself or the content they had viewed.
Journeys into VRThe group tried a variety of experiences, often in pairs with one person watching the (2D) screen and helping to orientate the viewer. There is a particular disconnection between what is viewed externally and what the wearer is actually experiencing. This often lead to miscommunication – “look to your left” “go down a bit” “over there” from the 2D external viewer against “where?” “oh, behind me” “where should I go?” from the wearer. Many were unfamiliar with the controllers and experienced a degree of cognitive overload as they coped with the range of visual stimuli, learning the mechanics of the experience (flying, dragging, zooming etc), understanding the use of handheld controllers and coping with the limitations of the headset itself. Once over the initial disorientation, many were able to fly and zoom in Google Earth VR, or experience a documentary from one of the many channels – Within or LittleStar or try a game or even the introductory tutorial. This last experience was incredibly useful to many who had never tried on a headset. “The wow factor shouldn’t be denied, it’s pure enjoyment and great fun!” It should be noted too that there was much fun and expression of enjoyment in the room, laughter and amazement.
Returning to EarthWhen we came back together as a group and discussed our experiences, much of the language changed to experiential and emotional, thinking about the quality of the content, the feelings that it had induced in the wearer. We discussed some of the possibilities and opportunities, thinking about other experiences that the group would like to try out and importantly, which experiences would be valuable to learners. Some of the group talked about the frustration of having to understand the controls and quickly learn the mechanics of movement and navigation. Some with Google Earth VR found the tutorial useful and would have liked to spend more time. Some were happy to wear the headsets for a short time and some found the whole experience slightly disconcerting and disorientating, preferring to pass the headset to the next person. Some of the group talked about the frustration of having to understand the controls and quickly learn the mechanics of movement and navigation. Some with Google Earth VR found the tutorial useful and would have liked to spend more time. Some were happy to wear the headsets for a short time and some found the whole experience slightly disconcerting and disorientating, preferring to pass the headset to the next person.
Session TakeawaysThe sessions with academics were useful for a number of reasons.
- Creating a process for first-time experiences
- Exploring preconceptions of VR
- Identifying the “wow factor”
- Thinking about the use of content in VR