SENATE COMMITTEE ON LIBRARIES, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, AND TECHNOLOGY
Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality Technologies at Penn State: Current Projects, Partnerships with Penn State IT, and Additional Opportunities
Immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are poised to become the next big technology platform. Growth through 2016/2017 has put this technology on a path for educational applications to conservatively take a $700M piece of an $80B market by 2025. As the technology continues to shrink in cost, and approaches the size of traditional eye glasses, it’s reasonable to expect widespread appeal amongst Penn State students. With several million dollars in active funding tied to Penn State projects, immersive reality has already proven to be a productive outlet for faculty scholarship, with significant opportunity for growth in the coming years.
Penn State IT, the university libraries, and several faculty in a cross-section of colleges and campuses are currently working in the creation and consumption of mixed reality learning materials. The partnership with Adobe in providing the Creative Cloud to all students and faculty has put the tools for the creation of VR/AR and 360 video into the hands of all PSU students and faculty. Some of this work is being directly supported through Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) a division of Penn State IT. The library is working on developing a mechanism to catalog and add meta-data to VR/AR learning objects. The library is planning on a mixed reality studio as a part of the library renovation. This will increase the access students and faculty have to the technology for both creation and consumption of mixed reality learning objects.
Projects and Partners in Immersive Experiences
Alex Klippel (Professor of Geography, TLT Faculty Fellow, Head of ChroroPhronesis research lab). Alex has worked with TLT on a variety immersive experience projects, including the creation of a general education virtual reality course and the creation of VR field lab activities for GeoSci 001. While GeoSci 001 is the specific class being explored, this project could serve as a blueprint for using VR to improve educational outcomes, while simultaneously improving access and scalability of field and lab activities. In addition, Alex has used VR and AR to allow users to map the inside of a Volcano, explore Mayan ruins in Belize and view historical maps of Penn State’s campus.
Conrad Tucker (Associate Professor or Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering, TLT Faculty Fellow). Conrad served as a TLT research fellow, spearheading Penn State’s first ever event dedicated to bringing together partners from education, industry and government – the Immersive Reality Symposium. In addition, Conrad has explored immersive reality technologies in a variety of contexts, including in support of lab safety and engineering education, as well as the design of haptic equipment, to improve the physical realism of experiencing VR environments.
Ty Hollett (Assistant Professor of Learning Design and Technology, TLT Faculty Fellow). Ty has worked with TLT to develop a virtual reality program aimed at assessing VR as a learning space as well as kinesthetic learning, built around the topic of sustainable food systems.
Ann Clements (Associate Professor of Music Education, TLT Faculty Fellow, Graduate Program Chair for Music Education). Ann has worked with TLT to develop First Class, a mixed reality classroom management simulation which allows pre-service teachers to use natural movement, gestures and voice to practice basic classroom management techniques.
Spenta Bamgi (undergraduate student in Kinesiology) is spending the early part of the SP18 semester exploring the potential for VR to improve kinesiology education, working in TLT’s Dreamery space.
Kate Morgan (Director, Instructional Design and Virtual Learning), TLT has helped to support the creation of a new Virtual Reality lab at Penn State Lehigh Valley, which opened in the FA17 semester.
Daniel Foster (Associate Professor of Agricultural and Extension Education, TLT Faculty Fellow) and Melanie Miller Foster (Assistant Professor of International Agriculture, TLT Faculty Fellow). Daniel and Melanie used their fellowship project to investigate the applications for 360° video for future agriculture teachers. They learned the process of creating 360° video to create their own reusable learning object then crafted an assignment that engaged students in the process of planning, filming, and editing their own 360° video teaching tool.
Marietta Scanlon (Assistant Teaching Professor of Engineering, Penn State Berks). Marietta has pursued the use of VR as a teaching tool for the engineering lab at the Berks campus in a number of different ways. Most recently, Marietta and a student created a series of 360° training videos on using lab equipment and proper safety protocols. They designed these videos in collaboration with TLT’s Immersive Experiences Lab.
TLT’s Dreamery has, for the past year, served as a public showcase for a variety of emerging technologies, including several immersive experience tools. It has been used to provide the first hands on exposure to VR and AR for a wide range of students, faculty and staff, including hosting a variety of undergraduate and graduate classes for hands on sessions.
Immersive Experiences Lab In Spring 2018, TLT has officially opened the Immersive Experiences Lab – a Media Commons focused on the creation and consumption of 360° video and VR content. The goal of the lab is to help faculty from any discipline meaningfully engage with and create immersive experiences. The lab is initially focusing on best practices for creating 360° video and will evolve with the technology and demand from faculty and students.
Additional Immersive Reality Efforts
Shyam Sundar (Distinguished Professor of Communications, Co Director of the Media Effects Lab) has explored the impacts of 360 video in journalism.
Ping Li (Professor of Psychology and Linguistics) has developed an application designed to promote second language acquisition using Virtual Reality (the virtual zoo).
John Messner (Professor of Architectural Engineering) has been leveraging mixed reality, virtual reality and simulation technologies for years in support of improving practices in construction management through his iCon (Immersive Construction) lab.
Jose Duarte (Stuckeman Chair in Design Innovation and Director of the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing) leveraged 360 images and video to design a virtual field trip of a Brazilian favela for urban design students.
Penn State’s College of Nursing has launched the SAFE-T center, which will use VR technologies to support the education of forensic nurses. In addition, the College has developed a series of 360 video experiences, designed to help promote learning and understanding in a variety of novel experiences, including inside of the nursing simulation lab, inside of life lion emergency helicopter and inside of a courtroom.
Penn State Athletics has explored the use of 360 video content to connect fans more deeply with athletic content, through their Lion Vision VR platform.
What to Expect
- Penn State’s continuing effort to improve access to the technology for students and faculty across the Commonwealth will yield more spaces to consume IE content.
- The Increasing ubiquity of immersive reality experiences (YouTube 360, Snapchat AR filters, Facebook Spaces, Apple AR Kit and Google AR Core) will increase student expectations of such content in support of their educational experiences.
- Augmented reality experiences will expand dramatically as hardware becomes less intrusive.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON LIBRARIES, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, AND TECHNOLOGY
- Fred Aebli
- Robert Bridges
- Mary Beth Clark
- Barbara Dewey
- Roger Egolf, Chair
- Joseph Enama
- Mathew Krott
- Michal Kubit
- Anna Mazzucato
- John Messner
- Terry O’Heron
- Barry Pawlowski
- Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
- Jennifer Sparrow
- Eric Walker, Vice Chair