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Project to Develop Standards for Moving Courses to VR

person in virtual glasses turns into pixels

A Michigan university has awarded a "merit" grant to an instructor working to develop standards and best practices for moving courses to virtual reality. The Ferris Foundation at Ferris State University issued $7,500 to Hira Herrington, an assistant professor in computer information systems, to jumpstart the standards efforts.

Herrington said he'd use the initial funds to acquire gear, including computers and VR headsets, to launch the first phase of the research project. He has also enlisted members of the College of Business and Office of Extended and International Operations faculty and staff to serve on an ad hoc research committee for the project. The committee has already received approval from the university's institutional review board to have Ferris students evaluate classes delivered in VR. And the business school has provided a first-floor room in its building to be used as a laboratory for VR research.

The "near-term goal" is to publish research findings. A longer-term goal will be to use the research outcomes "to train Ferris faculty to deliver classes and courses in VR," he said in a statement.

"Currently, there are few guidelines for educators to follow if they wish to move their current face-to-face course to, or develop a new course for, VR," Herrington noted. "Ferris is in a unique position to be a leader in courses delivered in this fashion."

Herrington expects to use the hardware to develop immersive tours of the campus and develop new VR courses. "If all aspects of this effort advance steadily, our first experimental VR courses could be offered as soon as the 2020 spring semester, with our first training sessions for Ferris faculty who wish to move their current face-to-face courses to VR offered in the summer of 2020."

He'll also seek additional grants from outside of the institution to continue the research and add to the hardware collection, which he hopes to place in "dedicated spaces" around campus.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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