Explosive Growth in Virtual Reality Learning at the University Level

America’s top universities are unequivocally embracing the VR/AR paradigm shift and the growth in virtual and augmented reality on our college campuses is nothing short of amazing. Whereas a mere few years ago, VR/AR was practically non-existent on all but a few of the nation’s universities, nowadays there are scores of top-flight institutions dipping their toes in these edge-pushing waters.

And this growth is just getting started. Furthermore, it won’t be stopped. For example, to assume that even 10% of our nation’s colleges offer VR/AR courses, labs, or degrees in this evolving technology feels like a generous guess. And if you consider the entire world’s college or university systems writ large, I doubt it’s even 3%.

Within 5 years, at least 50% of America’s major universities will offer educational opportunities that allow their students to make/create/produce VR/AR and even more will have incorporated VR/AR as tools for teaching in their classroom curriculum.

Yes, Virtual Reality Learning is coming to a college near you and as the old saying goes, “The revolution will not be televised.”

Here are 4 schools doing some incredible things:

At the University of Southern California, the USC Institute for Creative Technologies might be the nation’s most prestigious and well-established hub for VR/AR in all the nation. They describe themselves as leaders in the artificial intelligence, graphics, virtual reality and narrative communities, working to advance immersive techniques and technologies to solve problems facing service members, students and society. Research projects explore and expand how people engage with computers, through virtual characters, video games and simulated scenarios. ICT is a recognized leader in the development of virtual humans who look, think and behave like real people. Well worth checking out.

Another California university that is at the leading edge of this leading technology is Stanford. Their Virtual Human Interaction Lab to understand the dynamics and implications of interactions among people in immersive virtual reality simulations (VR), and other forms of human digital representations in media, communication systems, and games. Our work is centered on using empirical, behavioral science methodologies to explore people as they interact in these digital worlds. However, oftentimes it is necessary to develop new gesture tracking systems, three-dimensional modeling techniques, or agent-behavior algorithms in order to answer these basic social questions. Consequently, we also engage in research geared towards developing new ways to produce these VR simulations.

Stanford says their research programs tend to fall under one of three larger questions:

  1. What new social issues arise from the use of immersive VR communication systems?
  2. How can VR be used as a basic research tool to study the nuances of face-to-face interaction?
  3. How can VR be applied to improve everyday life, such as conservation, empathy, and communications systems.

Kalpana, from Carnegie Mellon, has very interesting things going on revolving around race relations. Injustice is a three to five minute interactive virtual reality (VR) experience themed around racially motivated police brutality. This has lots of people talking for lots of reasons.

MIT is also doing some very interesting things promoting entrepreneurship in their VR efforts. They are literally having their students form VR start-ups. (Plus, any company looking to work in VR, they want to know about.) Check them out right here.

Personally, I want to hear about all of it so if you’re in college and you’re doing some cool stuff, please leave a comment or send me an email through my Virtual Reality Learning Company EyeQVR. The revolution will not be televised.

Of course, right now we could name 10 top-flight universities where a quick search of Google will yield almost no mention of VR/AR associated with their school. But Google them in 5 years and I bet dollars to donuts that all 10 will be knee deep — or is it Eye Deep — in VR/AR learning.

By Alan Sitomer, C.E.O. EyeQVR

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