In the College of Education, Laila Richmond and other faculty are using cutting edge simulation technology to allow students to experience teaching firsthand. These simulations are created through mixed-reality and offer realistic opportunities for teacher candidates to practice their teaching skills in a safe environment where they can get feedback. The simulated classroom is one of several ways the College is using technology to create meaningful practice opportunities for teacher candidates. Another example is “Teacher Moments”, a web-based tool developed by the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, where classroom-based situations are provided for students to respond to on the spot and the responses are recorded. These recordings allow students to reflect on and deconstruct how they responded and get feedback on how they might improve their interactions. Both of these simulations give students a great opportunity to think about how they should respond to unique situations so they can be better prepared to enter the real classroom.
Jessica Stansbury has been taking instruction training to a new level in the with VR. She has been promoting VR to simulate many experiences, many of which are relevant to Clinical Psychology. One of the more intense experiences is called Transference. Transference is an experience that allows you to embody a child in a broken household. By letting learners experience this they are given a new level of empathy for their potential future patients.
On the more lighthearted side of things, there are experiences like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a puzzle game where a group of students outside of VR use a bomb defusing guide to help a student who is in VR interact with (and hopefully defuse) a bomb, performing a complex sequence of tasks. This experience helps students improve their communication, teamwork, and problem solving while having fun.
Lastly, students use an experience called job simulator to understand the experience of office work. From increasing students’ understanding of the mundanity of the simulated job to help them appreciate the emotional impact of firing employees, this experience gives students an important insight into office life. These experiences’ success is very much driven by the instructor’s guidance and following discussion but thanks to VR the students are able to have memorable, immersive experiences that have really helped increase the students’ empathy and understanding.
Iona Johnson has been using the interactive, 3D display Z-space to allow students to intuitively understand human anatomy. The Z-space display uses 3D display/glasses combined with a sensor that acts as a head and remote tracker that allows it to adjust to the perspective of the user and interact with the remote. With this technology, users are able to tangibly interact with 3D objects that are intuitively displayed to them in. This technology has been revolutionary for the study of anatomy as it allows learners to deconstruct anatomy, manipulating it and visualizing it with a ground-breaking 3D simulation.
The Towson University Career Center is leveraging Virtual Reality Mock Interviews with the recent purchase of an Oculus Go headset to help students practice their interview skills. For software, we are using the VirtualSpeech app, which is free to download and very easy to use.
Within the VirtualSpeech app, the “Meeting Room” feature places the user seated at the head of a conference room table facing an audience of 8-10 individuals seated around the table. Continue Reading
In March, there was a FreshTech panel presentation and discussion featuring Towson Faculty and Staff who are using emerging technologies in innovative ways on campus. This event provided attendees with many ideas for applying these technologies to their instruction. The participants painted a good picture of the broad array of technology available on campus. In the coming weeks, we will recap each presentation. By recapping their presentations, we hope you form ideas of how you can use the same technologies in your instruction.
There is a new wave of devices that are revolutionizing the use of Virtual Reality (VR) in education: Stand-Alone Virtual Reality headsets. The Oculus Go comes with the headset and controller pictured below. Unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that must be used in conjunction with a computer, the Oculus Go has an internal computer, battery, 1440p display, tracking sensors, storage, and speakers for as little as $200. It runs on the same operating system as the Samsung Gear VR and offers a similar, high end, comfortable experience. The internal computer may not match the power of the desktop connected Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, but the resolution actually exceeds that of these much more expensive headsets. Also, the screen is positioned at the optimum distance from the lenses so that you get the most out of the 1440p resolution.
One application that has the most potential for the HoloLens and similar Mixed Reality devices is their use in training. Despite this great potential, the biggest concern about the HoloLens is that it may not have enough software developed for it to make it as useful as it could be. Here in Towson Michael Bachman is overseeing a group of Information Technology students who are developing a capstone project that looks to take advantage of this application of Mixed Reality while helping to address the concerns. They are doing this by developing an application for the HoloLens that will help with training for the operation of a specific device. While the training will be for a very specific audience there is a real necessity for this training from the university. Continue Reading
Research has shown that Virtual Reality is able to greatly improve learning in many ways, but, high-end headsets are not as practical to provide to each member of a group of students. For this, there are a wide variety of virtual reality headsets that are much more affordable because they are not doing any processing of information or even display. These tasks are left to the mobile phones that are stored inside the headsets. These headsets are limited in what forms of interaction users are offered but are much less prohibitive in cost and connectivity. While High-end headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift offer better tracking and immersive controllers they also must be wired to a computer and are more limited in number because of the high cost of headset and computer needed to run the headset.
Why Use it: Mixed Reality (MR) can support a wide variety of learning objectives but most frequently is used to help with understanding learning objectives as it can combine the best of many other technologies to greatly improve how we perceive data. This is one of the newest emerging technologies and has elements of both Augmented and Virtual Reality. While Augmented Reality (AR) simply displays a virtual object in the real world, MR can do this with the level of interaction that Virtual Reality (VR) has. Bridging AR and VR gives virtual objects more presence in the real world, enhancing tangibility and understanding while increasing the interaction giving these objects more practical uses. Innovative Mixed Reality technology like the Microsoft HoloLens is just starting development and not yet available to consumers. MR is likely to become a huge technology once a wider range of more practical software has been developed.
Why Use it: Augmented Reality (AR) can support a wide variety of learning objectives, but most frequently it is used to help students understand concepts in a revolutionary way. Although it has been around for decades, many of the biggest companies in the world are now looking to revolutionize how we use AR. From Microsoft HoloLens to Google Glass to Snapchat filters, companies are focusing on this emerging technology and on making it more available to the public. Studies have shown that the tangible representation of concepts provided by AR makes learning much more intuitive and engaging. (Yoon, Anderson, Lin, & Elinich, 2017).