2 years ago, under the dream of 4 Berkeley undergraduates to spread their excitement for VR, the “Virtual Reality DeCal” was created. A DeCal is an official UC Berkeley class created, taught, and facilitated by students. For the past 4 semesters, this DeCal has taught 20+ students how to create immersive virtual reality experiences from the ground up.
The DeCal was, and is, a resounding success. We’ve had countless fantastic final projects turn into continuing long-term VR@B projects and personal projects. The curriculum is so effective, the DeCal team was approached by the Fung Institute to offer a course for graduate students developing VR capstone projects. In fact, according to course feedback, over 95% of students are satisfied with both how much they learned and how much they enjoyed the class. Accordingly, the class has about a 25% turnover rate for students either joining VR@Berkeley or joining the DeCal team.
Due to the increasing demand from students wanting to take the course and an increased team size stemming from previous DeCal students, the VR DeCal Team has officially transitioned into the new VR Education Team with expanded goals and larger responsibilities.
Among increasing class size and class sessions, the VR Education Team has 4 new opportunities for the Spring 2019 semester.
On top of facilitating the DeCal, in previous semesters we would allocate a couple team members for reaching out to student organizations interested in “VR Crash Courses”. One example of this is Splash, an organization that brought high school students in the Bay Area to UC Berkeley to attend student-run classes and workshops. To expand on this front, we’ve dedicated an entire team to developing workshops and reaching out to groups that might be interested.
Although we take a lot of pride in our curriculum, it’s impossible to teach students everything given the amount of class time we have to work with. As such, the VR Education Team has decided to create a sub-team whose sole purpose is to create and develop subject specific modules that focus on one aspect of VR development. Our first module is slated to focus on the networking behind creating multiplayer experiences and eventually we hope to expand to AR Development (see Magic Leap below…)
Our goal as a team is to reach as many people as possible. We want people to love VR as much as we do and leave their own impact on the industry. Unfortunately, as UC Berkeley students, we are physically limited to teaching students in the Bay Area. To improve this, we are currently in talks of developing a VR Textbook using our curriculum. This textbook would be for those without the opportunity to attend physical classes or prestigious universities.
Recently, our team was approached by a game development company interested in performing research on the effects of different types of locomotion on presence in VR. Although still in its infancy, we believe research like this is extremely important to keeping our knowledge as ‘modern’ as possible.
Written By: VR Education Team Co-Lead (Paxtan Laker)