Important tips for putting VR experiences into your teaching
The Hunter Library VR room serves as a place for you and your students to explore virtual reality.
Before making an assignment, lab exercise, or project that requires students to use the library’s VR room, it will be helpful to know the following:
1) Contact the VR coordinator (Jill Ellern) for a tour and training.
Arrange for an appointment of at least 1-hour for your own VR experience in this space. This session will include how to use the system and what VR options are available for your students. You might need several sessions to completely explore and understand some of the more complex software titles.
2) There is a limited number of systems in the library.
There are 2 Oculus Rift stations and 2 HTC Vive stations. There is also a PlayStation VR system. There are also two Oculus Rift headsets, 2 Ricoh Theta 360 cameras and a GoPro available for 7-day checkout.
Points to keep in mind about this limitation:
- Not all software runs on both systems. This can further limit the number of stations available for an activity.
- Only one student can wear the system at a time. Large screen monitors allow others in the room to see what the headset wearer “sees,” but it is not the same experience as having the headset on.
- Anyone can book time in the VR room. Class assignments do have priority over other activities in scheduling, but your students will compete for time with other VR room scheduling requests. The room is available to reserve anytime the library is open.
- Consider using Google Cardboard as an option. While not as robust an option for a VR experience, it is a viable option for getting a 3D view. The equipment affordable for every student (under $20) and most students have a smartphone that is used to run the system. 360 videos and still images are openly available on the web or you can create these yourself using the library’s cameras, or your/your students’ smartphones. We currently have 7 available for checkout at the Circulation Desk.
Other ideas that might help with this limitation:
- Reserve Time: It is possible to reserve time at particular stations for a class and then “sublet” these times to a specific class roster. Talk to your library liaison or the VR coordinator (Jill Ellern) about how this works and about setting up this option for your class lab.
- Limitations: There are limitations to the amount of people that can be in the VR room at any one time. Consider creating small groups as viewing teams for VR assignments.
- Max Number: It is recommended that no more than 2-5 per station and no more than 15 students total in the VR room at one time.
- Groups: Students can then help each other with this technology as a group activity.
- Departmental Lab Assistant: A student assistant from your department can be useful for a large enrollment course with a VR assignment.
3) A small percentage of the population will have issues viewing/using this technology.
Some people will get dizzy, nauseated, or claustrophobic using this equipment. Consider having an alternative assignment for these students.
4) There is a learning curve for VR equipment.
While the library can provide some one-on-one or class training sessions, the room itself is not staffed. Most students will need help the first time they use the equipment. You will need to plan an introductory session or consider working with your department to provide a lab assistant to help.
5) The library is piloting a purchasing process for VR software.
Currently, the only titles available in the room are those free items that came with the technology. We are working on the process of faculty requests for specific VR titles. If you are interested in exploring additional software that will support your teaching and learning, Jill Ellern, VR Coordinator or your library liaison.
If you would like to learn more about the VR Room at Hunter Library, contact Jill Ellern, VR Coordinator. Students, faculty, and staff may reserve a VR station online.