February 06, 2022 3 min read

 Stanford University First VR Class

If something good came up with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the accelerated development of technology. Almost every business, work, and class are connected online. Education has become a growing sector, as more and more schools and universities have used online technology. Stanford University even took it to another level and launched its first class in virtual reality, and it is the first VR class in the university’s history.


First VR Class in Stanford University

The university launched its first class in virtual reality using theVR gaming headset, Oculus Quest 2 from the Meta company.

The VR class is taught by Professor Jeremy Bailenson, who teaches Communication 166/266 Virtual People. It discusses the emerging VR technology and its uses. The course covers the development and expansion of the influence of virtual reality in different fields, including engineering, popular culture, communication, and behavioral science.

The course is carried out by the university’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. The study is part of research that observes how virtual technology can be used in educational settings.

A total of 263 students took part in this VR class, which ran for 20 weeks. Two courses are part of the study, and each participant spends 3,500 shared hours together in the Metaverse.


Virtual Reality Experiences

The course focuses on the different areas where virtual reality can be used. Students must use the lecture time during the course to participate in different VR experiences by themselves or as a group. This includes all the class discussions.

One of the things that the students experienced was a guided meditation in outer space. Another one is how the students could create performances with different avatars.

 

 

According to Professor Bailenson, his students don’t just get to try the VR experience during the class. The VR class has also achieved several feats, including connecting hundreds of students with VR headsets for months in the history of VR and teaching.

The VR class includes students majoring in economics, biology, computer science, art practice, psychology, sociology, and comparative literature.

Aside from the VR gaming headsets, the course uses an Engage Virtual Communication Software. This program is designed to connect the teachers and their students. Big companies and educational organizations also use it for their virtual meetings and events.


VR Class Model

The VR class uses the flipped classroom method. Students must do the readings over the weekend to prepare for the interactive lessons the following week. Class sessions involving VR headsets were also limited to 30 minutes to avoid any simulator sickness students may experience from excessive use of VR devices.

Another issue the class had to encounter was their privacy. So Professor Bailenson had an agreement with Facebook to allow their students to create fake accounts to use Oculus Quest while protecting their privacy.

Professor Bailenson also used the D.I.C.E. model in the VR class. This stands for Dangerous, Impossible, Counterproductive, and Expensive. VR class gives educators the chance to teach things that can be dangerous or too expensive. For example, for people that study oceanography, there are times that they need to travel to the middle of the ocean to complete research. However, using VR technology, they can simply put on their VR headgear and explore the sea without the need to spend money and travel.

Imagine doing research in anthropology that requires you to study past human species. Instead of just reading books or watching documentaries about human evolution, you use VR technology to have an immersive experience and watch human evolution right before their very eyes. This technology also creates a different experience that helps students engage and learn more.

This is actually one of Meta’s goals in developing their VR headsets. According to them, VR headsets such as the Oculus Quest will one day play a significant role in the future of Metaverse. Meta has invested a lot in developing their VR/AR gears and software, including their Metaverse, Horizon Worlds.

To pair with their VR gaming headset, Meta is developing haptic gloves. A team at the Meta Reality Labs has been working on this project for seven years. In fact, Meta has already introduced a prototype version of these haptic gloves. With these haptic gloves, users will feel the textures and objects present in the virtual world they are interacting with.

With the further development and progress of VR technology, people will inevitably be using VR headsets in their everyday lives.


Sources:

I.B.L. News

The Stanford Daily



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