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Center for Teaching Excellence

Virtual Reality Biology Students

Teaching Resources

Virtual Environments

Technology has grown to become one of the most important parts of our everyday lives, and it will continue to shape and transform the way that information is being taught. The cutting-edge technology of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and 360o videos are rapidly transforming the educational system while providing students with invaluable tools to help better prepare them for their future careers. These technologies provide educators with a safe, convenient, and low-cost environment in which learners can practice and develop new skills and knowledge through a fully immersive experience (Huang & Liaw, 2018).

Scholars indicate that the benefits of using these technologies in the classroom are great and can help to combat some of the challenges that educators face today. For example, Hu-Au & Lee (2017) discuss how VR can:

  • Lead to increased learner engagement
  • Provide active, constructivist learning
  • Increase frequency of authentic learning experiences
  • Allow for empathetic experiences
  • Enable learners to exercise creativity and
  • Provide an arena for visualizing abstract concepts concretely

How can CTE help you!

If you are interested in implementing Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and/or 360o videos into your curriculum, the Center for Teaching Excellence has the technology available that you can checkout to get started. 

CTE has the following equipment available for checkout: 

  • 6 HTC Vive Pro Headsets and Dell Laptops that are capable of running the headsets,
  • 1 Oculus Quest headset, and
  • 6 Garmin VIRB 360 cameras.

If you are new to this technology, CTE’s Virtual Environments Graduate Assistants are available to help you with learning how to use the technology, the setting up process, finding applications for your curriculum, and any other questions you may have.

What are the Virtual Environments Technologies?

HTC Vive Pro: This is a tethered headset that requires a computer with VR capabilities. The set up includes, Power adapter, Link Box, DisplayPort cable, USB 3.0 cable, Mounting pad, 2 Base Stations for tracking, and 2 Controllers. This device runs apps through both Steam and the VivePort app stores.

Oculus Quest: Tether-less headset, so no computer is required to use it. The set up includes the headset and 2 Controllers. This device runs apps through the Oculus Store.

Garmin VIRB 360: Waterproof 360o Camera with 5.7K/30fps Resolution and 4K Spherical Stabilization with 4 built-in microphones capture 360o audio.  It is used through the free mobile app and desktop software that lets you edit, stabilize, share and add data overlays to videos.

Phone Insert Headsets: There are headsets that are available that students can buy for as low as $6. They are easy to use and work by downloading a VR app onto a smartphone and placing a smartphone inside of the headset. An example of this is the Google Cardboard; however, there are many others on the market. Please note: these are available for students and faculty to checkout from the Thomas Cooper Library’s Tech Lounge.

Virtual Reality Platforms

The Virtual Reality platforms are the online stores where you can download either free or paid apps to use with the immersive headsets.  Each platform offers different titles and differing headset compatibility. At CTE we have accounts for Steam, the VivePort, and the Oculus store and can download apps for you (faculty) to test out and use with your classes.

Steam: The largest “store” for VR software applications. Applications on Steam are created by both independent and established developers, so the headset compatibility varies depending on the application.

Oculus Store: Offers a variety of free and paid for software but is only available for use with Oculus VR hardware.

VivePort: Offers a variety of free and paid for software but is only available for use in the Vive headset. 

Equipment Checkout Process

To checkout any of the equipment, please complete the Virtual Environments Equipment Request Form.  A member of our staff will contact you regarding your request.  As we have limited units, we request at least a 72-hour notice prior to the requested pickup time.  Please bring your USC ID for verification the day of pickup.

Checkout Length:  Equipment can be checked out for 2 weeks at a time.  If you wish to use equipment longer, please contact us at 803-777-8322 or cte@sc.edu to see if the checkout time can be extended.  We will try to accommodate your request. 

Support

We have Virtual Environments Graduate Assistants (GAs) at the CTE. Their research includes best practices for implementing Virtual Reality in the Classroom, Virtual Reality apps to use for educational purposes, and new and immerging Virtual Technology. The GAs can assist in finding virtual reality apps that are best suited for your class and are able to help in the implementation process for your course. Please complete the General Teaching Consultation Request Form to schedule a meeting with a GA.

Virtual Environments Interest Group and Blackboard Organization

We have a Virtual Environments Interest Group that meets monthly to discuss ways to bring 360° video, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality into teaching and learning environments at UofSC. Meetings are open to faculty, staff and students.  In addition, we host a Blackboard organization to enable communication and collaboration between faculty, staff and students interested in the advancement of virtual technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experience.  To join the interest group or the Blackboard organization, please email Aisha Haynes at haynesa@mailbox.sc.edu.

Helpful Links to Get Started

VIVE
Oculus
Garmin – VIRB 360
Virtual Reality for Education
The Comprehensive Guide to Getting Started in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

References

Huang, H. & Liaw, S. (2018). An Analysis of Learners’ Intentions Toward Virtual Reality Learning Based on Constructivist and Technology Acceptance Approaches.  International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(1), 91-115.

Hu-Au, E. & Lee, J. J. (2017). Virtual reality in education: a tool for learning in the experience age. International Journal of Innovation in Education, 4(4), 215-226.


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