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U Michigan Initiative to Explore Extended Reality Tech for Education and Research

The University of Michigan's Center for Academic Innovation is charged with leading the effort to integrate XR learning into residential and online curricula and create public-private partnerships to develop new XR educational technology.

woman using virtual reality gear

The University of Michigan has announced a campuswide initiative make U-M a hub for education and research in extended reality. Efforts will be led by the U-M's Center for Academic Innovation through a three-year funded commitment announced by Provost Martin Philbert.

The initiative will encompass augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality and other forms of computer-generated environments that are real and virtual and which use human-machine interactions. During the first few months, the initiative will focus on launching online courses on XR, supporting uses of in XR in residential classrooms, expanding graduate-level programming and developing new industry partnerships.

One of the initiative's goals is to work with partners across U-M to seed new projects and experiments in XR that can be integrated into coursework. The industry partnerships will be centered on developing new XR-related educational technology tools and educational content.

Joanna Millunchick, associate dean for undergraduate education at Michigan Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering, is already using augmented reality in a course to help her students understand crystal structures at a molecular scale.

"The language of the STEM fields is math. But for many students, math is too abstract and not linked to the physical world," Millunchick said. "Using XR in the classroom could bridge that gap in ways that is not currently possible."

There is also an interdisciplinary faculty team at U-M that is working on a graduate-level certification in augmented, virtual and mixed reality focused on advanced training and research in computer-generated technologies.

More information about the U-M's XR Initiative can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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