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Purdue University Global Pilots VR Graduation

Purdue's vr headset

Photo: Kaplan Higher Education/Chad Skelton

Graduates at Purdue University Global recently had the option to participate in their commencement ceremonies virtually, thanks to a pilot program using virtual reality to provide an immersive remote experience of the event. While around 400 students attended in-person, about 75 donned VR headsets to see and hear everything as if they were there — including marching in the procession line, sitting with fellow graduates, hearing their name announced and more.

The ceremony was captured in 360-degree video using an Insta360 Pro 2 camera, and streamed live on YouTube 360. In addition, a traditional single-view video feed was broadcast via Facebook Live. Virtual participants received a Purdue Global branded VR headset as well as a commencement program, tassel and other ceremonial accoutrements.

"We are proud to be the first university to offer students who otherwise would not be able to attend the opportunity to share the excitement of graduation in a virtual setting," said Patti Pelletier, director of the learning and leadership community for Purdue Global, in a statement.

The development team for the virtual experience included George Takahashi, lead visualization scientist for Purdue's Research Computing Envision Center, as well as a number of students at the center.

"Our undergraduate and graduate students at the Envision Center are deeply involved in exploring new technologies and the development of interactive visualization and simulation tools for research and learning," explained Takahashi. "Through our time working with Patti, five of our students explored consumer virtual reality platforms and enterprise 360 video recording and streaming technologies with the objective of providing an accessible immersive graduation experiences to those who would otherwise be unable to attend."

The Purdue University Global commencement took place on Thursday, Feb. 27 in Los Angeles.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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