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Learning in 3D: new student extended reality lab

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Augmented reality technology is the catch-all phrase used to describe augmented and virtual reality, bridging barriers both in Lehi and abroad.

Steve Sakashitz, instructional designer for the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, said the student development lab will be located in the basement of the Fairchild Martindale Library Computing Center.

This lab is intended for students interested in Augmented Reality.

“If students are interested in that sort of thing, whether it’s building 3D worlds, 3D modeling, making 360 videos, or even just building 2D games, this could be the place to do it.” Sakasitz says.

The Student Development Lab joins the Visualization Lab or XR Learning Lab, now at CITL, which began as the Data Visualization Lab. Along the existing lab walls, MultiTaction Curved iWall is for digital display of data. VR headsets are scattered on tables throughout the space.

According to Sakasitz, the original purpose of the lab was to visualize massive amounts of data. It is currently used by Lehi’s faculty, primarily for her XR exploration at higher education institutions.

“We’re looking at academic applications and applications focused on building empathy, diversity, and cultural things,” said Sakasitz.

Psychology professor Valerie Taylor uses virtual reality in her research on interracial interactions.

She said research shows that people are challenged by interracial interactions, but the more people challenged, the more positive outcomes are likely to be. .

“Interracial interactions are tough,” Taylor said. “They’re difficult. It often doesn’t work out, but having that should lead to better results, because now we have experience interacting with people across a range of differences.”

When studying these processes in research studies or in the lab, she said, it’s hard to know if subjects are behaving authentically or if they’re trying to meet the expectations of their professors.

She said the use of augmented reality technology offers a way to see how people are interacting in various virtual spaces. Hopefully, researchers will be able to look at people’s natural reactions in a way that isn’t always available in the real world or in research.

She explained that when a subject puts on a VR headset, the simulated world becomes the actual reality.

“Your brain understands the simulated world as the world you’re in, even for a second,” says Taylor. “It feels very, very real. We know this because if something happens, you can freak out. I might write.”

Vice Chancellor of Creative Research and Director of the Mountaintop Initiative, Kanjan Mehta leads the Global Social Impact Fellowship Program.

The program addresses sustainable development issues in the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Sierra Leone. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the student was unable to travel to these countries in January Conduct fieldwork, which is a typical component of the program.

This time, Mehta explained that she was frustrated because her program project stalled and her learning goals were not met.

He asked himself how the program could help students develop “cognitive flexibility” and gain context for research and design.

Mehta says that students struggle to ask the right questions if they are not immersed in the environment in which they are studying.

“To solve important problems, you have to ask important questions,” says Mehta.

This led Mehta to 360-degree video. While in Sierra Leone, he used his 360-degree camera to photograph the hotel where students stay, the streets of Sierra Leone, and the medical facilities there.

“If you are working on a diagnostic device that will be used[in a health care facility]ask yourself where it will be used, what it will look like, and how the local nurses and health care workers will be trained. I need to know,” said Mehta.

He said that watching the video made the students feel more comfortable before their arrival in Sierra Leone.

“It’s rare that many of our students get to experience what it’s like to be a minority in a place, in terms of skin color, what they wear, or any number of factors,” Mehta said. said..

At the XR Community of Practice meeting, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Jeffrey Heflin said he likes the way XR makes things more accessible.

“I love the idea of ​​being able to do things that would be too expensive in a real classroom,” says Heflin.

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