Page 21 - Campus Technology, January/February 2018
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VIRTUAL REALITY dian schaffhauser How to Set Up a VR Pilot
As Washington & Lee University has found, there is no best approach for introducing virtual reality into your classrooms — just stages of faculty commitment.
THE HEADSET GOES ON and the student is handed two control- lers. She begins to manipulate a virtual model of a protein, turning it this way and that to study the structure. It’s not exactly like playing in Star Trek: Bridge Crew, but it’s still way better than looking at a flat illustration in a textbook, which is exactly why Washington & Lee University’s (VA) Integrative and Quantitative (IQ) Center is trying out the use of virtual reality in as many classes as it can. Even though it may feel like VR has been around for a long time (Oculus Rift began taking pre-orders in 2012), in education its use is still on the bleeding edge.
The work at the IQ Center offers a model for how other institutions might want to approach their own VR experimentation. The secret to success, sug- gested IQ Center Coordinator David Pfaff, “is to not be afraid to develop your own stuff” — in other words, diving right in. But first, there’s dipping a toe.
The IQ Center is a collaborative workspace housed in the science building but providing services to “departments all over campus,” said Pfaff. The facilities include three labs: one loaded with high-performance workstations, another decked out for 3D visualization and a third packed with physical/ mechanical equipment, including 3D printers, a laser cutter and a motion- capture system.4
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | January/February 2018

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