Summer 2017 faculty workshop

Stories for the Eye and Mind: Immersive Environments for Teaching, Learning, and Research

26-29 June 2017, 9 AM to 12 PM; Optional lab 2 to 5 PM

The liberal arts have rich stories to tell and immersive environments can be a powerful way of transmitting and experiencing these stories. In addition to providing a sense of unmediated presence, immersive environments can be used in instructional contexts to support situated cognition, amplify emotions and empathy, and grant access to remote, erased, or hypothetical sites. With the goal of developing both a theoretical background and a practical skill set, this four-day workshop will examine the use of virtual reality technologies as a means of enhancing and augmenting the liberal arts. Workshop activity will consist of examining current virtual reality platforms; experiencing immersive environments developed at other institutions and hearing from their designers; becoming familiar with research and theoretical approaches to immersive environments; discussing best practices for instructional use of these environments; and creating our own immersive experiences during an optional hands-on lab in the afternoon. Workshop participants will develop a more nuanced understanding of the affordances and limitations of immersive environments, which can lay the groundwork for future teaching, research, and grant-writing activity. Guest speakers will present on the virtual preservation of archaeological sites located in a war zone, making virtual reality experiences accessible to the visually impaired, and the use of immersive storytelling technology to address social inequities and create empathy across lines of race, class, and gender. Facilitated by David Neville and Damian Kelty-Stephen.

Day 1: Playful First Steps: Our Initial Dive into Immersive Environments (26 June)
Workshop: 9 AM to 12 PM; Optional lab: 2 PM to 5 PM

Participants will receive their initial exposure to current virtual reality platforms including Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. Workshop activity will include getting to know other workshop participants, articulating goals and expectations for the workshop, playing popular virtual reality games and experiences, reading about current trends in virtual reality, and identifying topics and themes that will guide workshop activity in the coming days.

Participants will be exposed to ludic features of popular commercial virtual reality games and experiences; will develop a base knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of virtual reality through this exposure; will be able to situate current developments in virtual reality within a historical framework; and will develop a working vocabulary regarding virtual reality headsets and immersive experiences.

Virtual reality experiences
Google Earth VR (

Robo Recall (

Bullet Train (

The Lab (

My Brother’s Keeper (

Zombie Training Simulator (

Buzz Aldrin: Cycling Pathways to Mars (

Mission: ISS (

Gnomes & Goblins (

Everest VR (

Call of the Starseed (

Oculus Medium (

Dead and Buried (

Quill (

Lucky’s Tale (

Toybox (

Dreamdeck (

Kelly, K. (2016). The untold story of Magic Leap, the world’s most secretive startup. Wired. Retrieved from

Sinclair, B. & Gunhouse, G. (2016, March 7). The promise of virtual reality in higher education. Educause Review. Retrieved from

Day 2: Immersive Storytelling (27 June)
Workshop: 9 AM to 12 PM; Optional lab: 2 PM to 5 PM

Participants will experience immersive storytelling on different virtual reality platforms including Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. Workshop activity will include reading about the impact that immersive environments have on viewer emotions; close examination of an immersive journalism project (Bridging Selma – Fractured Tour); participating in an online presentation, including a question and answer period, with creators of the project; and hands-on lab and field work with hardware and software to create an immersive storytelling experience. Participants will be provided with a Google Cardboard device and stereo earbuds, but will need to supply their own Cardboard-capable smartphone. A limited number of smartphones are available for participants who do not have one.

Guest Speaker
Dr. Joel Beeson, associate professor at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media, will join us via web conference call to discuss his work on the Bridging Selma – Fractured Tour project.

Participants will be able to make spherical images using the Ricoh Theta S camera; upload these images to Story Spheres, add audio, and view the final spherical video on a Google Cardboard device. Through workshop readings and discussions participants will become familiar with the instructional affordances provided by immersive storytelling environments and be exposed to best practices for their creation and implementation.

Virtual reality experiences
6×9 (×9:-a-virtual-experience-of-solitary-confinement)

Waves of Grace (

Clouds over Sidra (

The Displaced (

Millions March (

We Wait (

Pearl (

Dear Angelica (

Lost (

The Rose and I (

Henry (

Allumette (

Sensa Peso (

Ahn, S.J., Le, A.M.T, & Bailenson, J. (2013). The effect of embodied experiences on self-other merging, attitude, and helping behavior. Media Psychology, 16(1), 7-38. Retrieved from

Anderson, G. (2016). The cinematic VR field guide: A guide to best practices for shooting 360º [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Beeson, J. (2015, July 23). Inside the empathy machine: VR, neuroscience, race and journalism. [Web page]. Retrieved from

de la Peña, N. (2015, December 15). The future of news? Virtual reality. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Milk, C. (2015, April 22). How virtual reality can create the ultimate empathy machine. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Rosenberg, R.S., Baughman, S.L., Bailenson, J.N. (2013). Virtual superheroes: Using superpowers in virtual reality to encourage prosocial behavior. PLOS One, 8(1), 1-9. Retrieved from

Day 3: Digital Heritage and History (28 June)
Workshop: 9 AM to 12 PM; Optional lab: 2 PM to 5 PM

Participants will experience digital reconstructions of cultural heritage sites and historical experiences on different virtual reality platforms including Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. Workshop activity will include reading about theoretical and practical approaches to digital reconstructions of cultural heritage sites and historical experiences; close examination of an immersive environment depicting a cultural heritage site (Baptistery of Dura Europos); participating in an online presentation, including a question and answer period, with the creator of the environment; and hands-on lab work with software to create a digital reconstruction of a cultural heritage site.

Guest Speaker
Dr. Glenn Gunhouse, senior lecturer in Art History at Georgia State University, will join us via web conference call to discuss his work on digital representations of cultural heritage sites and making virtual reality accessible to the visually impaired.

Participants will be create simple models in SketchUp; prepare these models for importing into the Unity game engine; and view these models on an HTC Vive device. Participants will also be introduced to Historic American Building Survey resources in the Library of Congress and the development workflow for the Uncle Sam Plantation project. Through workshop readings and discussions participants will develop a more thorough understanding of how these 3D reconstructions can be used in research and instructional contexts, and how issues of accessibility can be addressed.

Virtual reality experiences
Chernobyl VR Project (

Realities (

The Apollo 11 Experience (

Arnswalde VR (

Go For Launch: Mercury (

Cultural Heritage on SketchFab (

3D-ICONS. (2014). Guidelines and case studies. Retrieved from

Favro, D. (2012). Se non èvero, èben trovato (If not true, it is well conceived): Digital immersive reconstructions of historical environments. Special Issue on Architectural Representations, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 71(3), 273-277.

Fredrick, D. (2014). Time.deltaTime: The vicissitudes of presence in visualizing Roman houses with game engine technology. AI & Society: Knowledge, Culture and Communication, 29(4), 461-472.

Frischer, B. (2013). Rome Reborn [website]. Retrieved from

Frischer, B. & Fillwalk, J. (2012). The digital Hadrian’s Villa project: Using virtual worlds to control suspected solar alignments. In G. Guidi (Ed.), Proceedings of 2012: 18th International Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia (VSMM 2012) (pp. 49-56). Piscataway, NJ: IEEE.

Kacyra, B. (2011). Ancient wonders captured in 3D. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Kennedy, M. (2015). British Museum uses virtual reality to transport visitors to the bronze age. The Guardian. Retrieved from

London Charter. (2009). Retrieved from

Murray, M. (2014). 3D scanning and preserving cultural heritage: Makenna Murray at TEDxWellesleyCollege. [Video File] from

Day 4: Immersive Environments Showcase (29 June)
Workshop: 9 AM to 12 PM; Project showcase and discussion: 2 PM to 5 PM

Participants will interact with the immersive environments they have created during the workshop on different virtual reality platforms including Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive; provide feedback on their experiences in these environments; and discuss ways in which immersive environments can be developed, implemented, and assessed in instructional contexts.

Participants will be able to explain how they developed their immersive environment project; evaluate immersive environments in terms of strengths and weaknesses; forward ideas for implementing and evaluating their project in a research or instructional settings; and situate their project within a framework of problem-based learning, activity theory, game-based learning, cognitive load theory, or situated cognition theory.

Brown, J., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.

Dalgarno, B. & Lee, M.J.W. (2010). What are the learning affordances of 3-D virtual environments? British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 10-32.

Gee, J. P. (2008). Learning and games. In K. Salen, (Ed.). The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning (pp. 21-40). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Jonassen, D., & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999). Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology: Research and Development, 47(1), 61-79.

Savery, J. R. (2006). Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 1(1), 9-20.

Mayer, R. E. & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning, Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.