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Immersive technology in higher education

To what extent will augmented reality and 3D printing affect post-secondary teaching and learning?

Over the past year, academic instructors and IT teams at Florida International University, Hamilton College, Syracuse University, and Yale University participated in a research project commissioned by Educause and Hewlett-Packard to explore the best practices for adopting and integrating immersive technology into the classroom.

Representatives from each institution shared their classroom innovations with an audience at the Educause Annual Conference on November 1, 2018.

Instructors in the Humanities at Yale University are training their students to explore and approach philosophical questions through media outside of prose. In one class, instead of writing a final paper, students opted to complete digital projects on selfhood, race, class and gender, with one student printing an altered 3D model of her face in response to American beauty standards.

Students at FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture and the Arts used 3D printing technology to provide real clients with unique solutions. For example, some students created environmental models demonstrating the anticipated impacts of climate change for a museum while other students developed models of human organs for hospitals to use in educating their patients.

Journalism students at Syracuse University are using virtual reality to recognize and overcome their internal biases. These include simulations where students observe a police interrogation and afterward participate in an offline debrief where they learn about best practices and common issues in reporting on these scenarios.

While each institution highlighted their innovative successes in the classroom, they did not shy away from discussing their setbacks. Each panelist agreed that successfully incorporating immersive technology into the classroom involves a great deal of trial and error and collaboration with departmental colleagues and IT teams.

The panelists also emphatically discussed the ongoing democratization of immersive technology. With equipment becoming more affordable in addition to the growth of free online software, immersive technology is within the reach of more departments and institutions than ever before.

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About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and marketing strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also a part-time faculty member at Centennial College and serves on the board of the Canadian Public Relations Society.

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