OTS Reality Checks Begin September 18!

Join OTS Student Computing Services (Cook 35) for one or more of these free weekly sessions to try-out our available Virtual Reality (VR) systems: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony Playstation VR, and Oculus Quest. Gain insight on VR and its potential academic and skill development applications. Each participant must sign a liability waiver and will be spotted by a staff member. Walk-in participants are welcome, but those who sign-up through the SCS Online Resource Booking System (ORBS) will receive priority access. Sign into ORBS, click Workshops and subscribe to the event(s) you plan to attend. Continue Reading

Actor Based Instructional Simulation & Teacher Moments

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.

Simulations of Situational Factors with VR

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.

Virtual Reality Mock Interviews

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

Panel Recap Introduction

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. 

Hands-On (Eyes-On) Access to VR at TU

Smiling male with a VR headset onIntrigued by extended reality? Fatigued by actual reality? There is a place on campus, deep underground, where faculty and students can try-out virtual reality hardware and software. OTS Student Computing Services (SCS) is hosting weekly “Reality Checks” in Cook 35 through the end of the semester. Curious students and faculty are invited to sign-up via the SCS Online Resource Booking System (ORBS) or just drop by. Available systems include Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony Playstation VR, and Samsung Gear VR. Continue Reading

Meet the GoPro Fusion Spherical Camera

photo of a GoPro Fusion spherical camera on a white backgroundAmong the four different spherical cameras (a.k.a., 360-degree or omnidirectional cameras) available to TU students and faculty via SCS Gear2Go*, the GoPro Fusion promises the highest quality output. Its 5.2K resolution is a step-up from the competition’s 4K models, and its unique design produces better stitching—the process by which the camera joins two hemispherical images into a single spherical image.

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Stand-Alone Virtual Reality

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.

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Meet the RICOH Theta V Spherical Camera

RICOH Theta V camera on tripod in front of iMac computerAmong the four different spherical (or 360 degree) cameras available to TU students and faculty via SCS Gear2Go, the RICOH Theta V* 4K camera is—in a sense—the old-timer. The original RICOH Theta was the first simple and relatively inexpensive spherical camera in its class. Like most of it’s peers, its sports two opposing wide angle lenses that each capture 180 degrees of available light; a built-in processor “stitches” the front and back images (hemispheres) together into single image or video. Unlike most of its peers, the Theta V is svelte and comfortably pocketable.

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Update from National Association of Broadcasters Conference

The National Association of Broadcasters Conference is one of the biggest conferences in North America for media. Several representatives from Towson University including staff and faculty from the Office of Technology Services, the College of Fine Arts and Communications and myself visited the convention in Nevada to learn about the trends in technology, hardware, software and innovations in media. My goal for the conference was to attend as many lectures on emerging media and to gauge any major trends in technology that may apply to us at Towson. This April, the theme carried on from last year (my first trip to NAB) with its’ slogan “The MET Effect: Media Entertainment and Technology.” Continue Reading