DePaul Uses VR to Adapt to Virtual Classrooms
DePaul Virtual Classroom

DePaul Uses VR to Adapt to Virtual Classrooms

DePaul is going beyond all standards of virtual learning. The institution hosted a Discover Chicago class using virtual reality to introduce the freshmen to the city and their peers. Bree McEwan, a professor in DePaul’s College of Communication, took her honors Augmented Chicago class via virtual reality headsets this past fall quarter.

“oS I thought, well, I do have this grant and we’re kind of stuck in not being able to use that money for building out the lab the way we were thinking originally. So what could we do?” stated McEwan.

DePaul Newsline put out a press release saying that McEwan had delivered 23 VR headsets to students living in Chicago and shipped the rest to the ones living out of state. She taught her class over Zoom for a few weeks until all of her students received the headsets. She had picked the HTC Vive focus plus headsets for her virtual classroom. 

The class consisted of several activities, a few amongst which were still hosted on Zoom. Her students could set their avatars, sit in a stadium setting for the class, build 3D-models, and interact with their peers in smaller groups

The President of the Chicago Chapter of the Global Association of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR(Augmented Reality), Matt Wren, also appeared as a guest on McEwan’s class. Coincidentally, he lives close to McEwan so she could bring him a headset to host a space at her virtual classroom.

The developers of the Vive sync space also attended the class and briefed students about their product. They also hosted discussions to get feedback and take down points to enhance their user experience.

“They actually came in because they were very interested in what we were doing at DePaul and using their space,” said McEwan.

McEwan also added that her class focuses on contested knowledge and the creation of knowledge. Similarly, virtual reality immerses you in something beyond the actual reality and helps discover new horizons.

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