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Reese Innovate

Steven King and his virtual reality classroom on ABC News’s “Pandemic: What You Need to Know”

King on ABC News’s “Pandemic: What You Need to Know: “

Steven King, UNC professor of Emerging Technologies at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media/Kenan-Flagler Business School and Chief Innovation Officer of the Reese Innovation Lab, was recently featured on ABC News’s “Pandemic: What You Need to Know,” hosted by Amy Robach and Dr. Jen Ashton. The story highlighted King’s pivot to virtual learning in response to COVID-19. His idea? It was to use social VR as a platform for his MEJO 588 class: Emerging Technologies.

It took 28 Oculus Go headsets and testing two social VR platforms (Mozilla Hubs and AltSpaceVR) in a span of two weeks. The hard work paid off as students in the class found this environment more engaging. They could gather in a space, break out into small group discussions, write on a white board, and actually talk to one another before and after class. All of these actions don’t occur naturally in classes that use video conferencing platforms.

This story of innovation in a time of social distancing caught the attention of numerous media outlets across the nation, including ABC News!

Pictured: MEJO 588 in AltSpaceVR (left) and King’s workspace setup (remote)

“It was very exciting to be honored by ABC News like this but the best part is that other educators can see the power and accessability of Virtual Reality to enhance learning.” — Steven King

Virtual reality and storytelling is one of the Lab’s primary areas of focus. The Lab builds experiences that solve a problem like college access by using GEAR UP VR or inspire the next generation of business leaders thanks to Cameroon VR. These past few weeks of an unprecedented spring semester reveal what can happen when innovation meets opportunity.

“Since the broadcast, I have received messages from educators across the country asking about integrating Virtual Reality into their remote classrooms,” says King when reflecting on the experience.

To learn more about King’s experiment on the value of meeting in a virtual space and how you can host your next class or meeting in virtual reality, read his series of articles on Virtual Reality Classrooms.

Be sure to follow the Lab on social media (@ReeseInnovate) to see our latest projects.

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The UNC Reese Innovation Lab uses emerging technologies like VR, AR and AI to engage audiences in new ways.

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