Stanford Professor Introduces the University’s First Class to Be Entirely Taught in VR
University’s First Class in VR

Stanford Professor Introduces the University’s First Class to Be Entirely Taught in VR

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The communication professor at Stanford University, Jeremy Bailenson, is evolving his class, ‘Virtual People,’ to a virtual reality medium, becoming the first one at the university to do so.

“We live in a time where virtual reality is rapidly expanding its roles in how we work, play and communicate,” said music professor Ge Wang as he introduced Bailenson and first-year communication Ph.D. student Cyan DeVeaux at the Art and Tech Salon, a speaker series that unites students and professors from across campus disciplines.

The class is hosted on the virtual meeting platform ENGAGE. It provides various tools for students and teachers to interact and create stuff within virtual environments. 

DeVeaux, a teaching assistant for the class, explained that the teaching team sought to help the students imagine the impossible as they could with VR. They created several unique assignments for the purpose, including a guided meditation in outer space, creating a performance with different avatars, and building a unique scene.

“The only limitation to this assignment was a student’s own imagination,” DeVeaux added.

The innovation posed various challenges, such as budgeting for hardware expenses, finding a software platform, and redesigning the curriculum suited to VR. They went ahead with the flipped classroom method, prompting the students to do their readings before the VR sessions held throughout the week.

The team also worked with Facebook to let students use fake accounts to safeguard their privacy during the class taken on University-provided headsets from Oculus.

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