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but the group was ready to move beyond text- and cartoon- based training for some of its scenarios.
After a lot of brainstorming for this “side project,” as Misaras called it, GTI settled on the idea of creating 360- degree videos. She wrote the script, and DELTA Creative Director Michael Cuales concocted a custom rig with three cameras to do the filming. All aspects of production were handled in-house. Among the technologies involved: Kolor’s Autopano Video software for processing the raw 360 video array; Adobe Creative Suite for editing, masking and ren- dering final video content; WondaVR for the development of interactive 360 video experiences; and Moodle for delivery of the course module. The work was started in fall 2016 and finished for piloting by students in spring 2017.
For this first campus VR project, the university acquired about a dozen Samsung GearVR headsets and requisite phones, which meant the testing could only be done with smaller groups. That setup also turned out to be a limiting factor, since faculty and assistants had to grapple with tech- nical issues that popped up with that combination of devices.
Since then, the school has purchased a classroom-sized inventory of phoneless Oculus Go headsets, which is expect- ed to minimize the amount of technical dinking required and will allow GTI to scale usage. That’s timely because although the original use of the system was among engineering stu- dents, GTI is seeing interest percolate in other disciplines too — starting with the school of business, which wants to use the training as part of the orientation for new MBA students.
The resulting experience gives students a sense of vi-
sual and audible presence that differs from traditional me- dia forms. That’s why Misaras considers the use of VR so important to the effort. “There’s an element of novelty, of course. It’s a new technology so it’s really cool [and] that gets them in the door,” she admitted. “But I think the virtual reality helps with building empathy because you’re experiencing the meeting through someone else’s eyes and you’re hearing their thoughts. You become that per- son, even if you don’t agree with what they’re thinking or saying, even if that’s not what you personally hold as your point of view. We found that students will tend to argue that point of view more. What we’ve heard is, ‘I don’t nec- essarily agree with this guy and what he’s thinking, but I
get it. I understand his reasoning now.’”
The use of VR for this kind of scenario-based experi-
ence could have application outside of school too, Misaras observed, where people need to have real conversations with each other: “OK, I might not agree with you politically, but instead of calling you a stupid idiot, let’s figure out, what were your experiences? What brought you to your beliefs and how you see the world? What are your values? It’s not just for engineering or business. It’s for any kind of relation- ship building.”
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for Campus Technology.
In NC State’s “First Impressions” VR experience, students attend a simulated business meeting from the point of view of one of the meeting participants.
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | October/November 2018

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