In addition to presenting students with tools to improve their academic experience, we hope that the University Around You series (see our 2017 and 2018 lunch and learns) enhances learning and inspires future leaders and entrepreneurs. With that in mind, we wanted to use our February lunch and learn to showcase two groups using technology to create immersive and interactive learning experiences: Wharton’s Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab and PennImmersive through Penn Libraries.
Check out our video recording and slides below:
- Sims & Education Gamification – PowerPoint Slides (only the PennImmersive AR/VR portion of the slides are available)
- Sims & Education Gamification – Video Recording
Simulations and Experiential-Learning with Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab
Sarah Toms, former IT Technical Director of the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab and current Senior Director of Wharton Interactive, kicked off the presentation with an overview of the history beginning with the inception as the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab. She talked about many of the early games and interactive media created in collaboration with Wharton faculty. Her presentation included a partial road map for the future of Wharton Interactive using Wharton simulations and experience-based learning at external universities. Going forward, the Learning Lab will continue to focus on internal games and simulations at university while Wharton Interactive will manage commercial implementations globally.
In order to lower the costs of creating simulations and to support the democratization of education, Wharton Interactive and the Learning Lab began creating platforms that people can easily customize and build upon including Idea Machine, SIMPL.WORLD, and Looking Glass. Sarah provided further detail about Looking Glass as a platform that “Allows students to experience situations, team-building, all the messiness that goes into working on things together around the goals and pedagogy of the faculty through a customizable story engine.” Looking Glass allowed richer student engagement – they could experience important work place dynamics, including role reversal which isn’t easily replicated without the anonymity of character play at the center of a simulation. For example, men and women were able to reverse gender roles and get to experience what teamwork is like as the opposite gender in order to improve their own communication skills. Check out the recording above for a more in-depth description of Looking Glass and its success in the Wharton classrooms.
Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and 3D Tools with PennImmersive
Kim Eke, Associate University Librarian for Teaching, Research & Learning Services, and David Toccafondi, Media Lab Manager at the Vitale Digital Media Lab led the overview of the PennImmersive initiative and AR/VR tools available through Penn Libraries. PennImmersive is a year-long community research project designed to explore the efficacy of 3D, VR, and AR in teaching, learning, and research. Virtual Reality includes a fully immersed experience, a sense of one’s own presence in the space, and sometimes the ability to interact with the space around you. Virtual Reality tools available through PennImmersive include: 3 Oculus Rifts, 1 HTC Vive, 2 rooms dedicated to VR (1 Oculus, 1 Vive), Google Cardboards, 4K 360 cameras, and 8K professional 360 cameras. Augmented Reality involves a digital overlay of information in the physical world. AR tools through PennImmersive include 2 Microsoft Hololenses and 2 Zapboxes. 3D modeling creates a mathematical representation of an object or environment using special software. 3D modeling tools available through PennImmersive include 3D printers in the Educational Commons and Biomedical Library and 3D scanners (Artec Eva, Space Spider). These immersive technologies have been used by Penn faculty and students for diverse projects including VR documentaries, VR cognitive behavioral therapy, VR medical emergency response training, AR/VR neurology rehabilitation, VR cardiology surgeon training, AR/3D modeling archaeology excavation, and more. After the presentation, Kim and David provided students with hands-on demonstrations of the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.
About Strategic Partnerships Student Team:
The University Around You series is brought to you by the Wharton Computing Strategic Partnerships Student Team. Our goal is to provide a clear communication channel between Wharton Computing and students. We focus on building partnerships by engaging with students year-round through surveys, focus groups, and ad hoc outreach. We analyze findings and then work with relevant service teams and individuals to ensure continual process improvement. Alex Milne leads the Student Strategic Partnership team. He is a Wharton Computing veteran with a long list of accomplishments here and at his previous role at Harvard University. Erin Murphy is a long-time contributor to Wharton Computing, providing exhaustive research, analysis, and development work.