New research center focused on augmented and mixed reality | Information Center

The newly established VITaL (Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning) research center will bring the concept of virtual teaching and learning into reality.

With augmented and virtual reality playing a bigger role in everyday life, San Diego State University has launched a new research center dedicated to expanding the use of emerging virtual technologies in the classroom.

The Information Technology Division has launched Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning (VITaL) as an official research center. Its faculty and staff will expand research to develop and integrate new and innovative teaching and learning practices, spark technological innovation and research in the field of extended reality (XR). This includes virtual, augmented and blended immersive learning tools.

“It’s about evolving the traditional learning environment and harnessing the tremendous power of immersive technologies to dramatically increase learner attention by increasing student engagement,” said jerry sheehanvice president of information technology.

“SDSU is a national leader in innovation, creativity and collaboration that would be impossible or out of reach in traditional learning environments,” Sheehan said.

The mission of the VITaL Center is to improve teaching, learning and student success through state-of-the-art technological tools and resources, said James FrazeeDeputy Chief Information Officer and Senior Associate Vice President for Learning Environments, Technologies and User Services (LETUS), a unit within the IT Division.

Faculty and research center staff will engage students in collaborative projects to design, develop, research, and engage with XR while taking advantage of new technologies in hardware, software, artificial intelligence, and computing. machine learning.

“The VITaL Center will create and operate open, affordable, and inclusive immersive learning resources to serve a diverse community of learners,” Frazee said.

Living Laboratories

Instructional Technology Services, a unit of SDSU’s Information Technology Division, launched the VITaL initiative in the fall of 2017. This initiative served as an incubator for faculty and staff to create new and innovative.

Faculty created new ways to teach through the use of XR applications, to include creating low-frequency, high-risk scenarios.

Other professors have created a personalized application demonstrating the interactions between nanomaterials for mechanical engineering students, animated three-dimensional models of molecules and magnetic fields for chemistry and physics students, and developed an award-winning virtual holographic patient simulating anaphylactic shock for nursing students.
Beyond these examples, VITaL resources have been used by 56 professors giving 70 courses in the eight SDSU colleges. This widespread adoption has provided a living laboratory for research that has resulted in several awards, grants, peer-reviewed publications and invited presentations, as well as national and international media coverage. Collaborations with student organizations and industry partners have resulted in career paths for SDSU students at top employers.

“These experiences were especially valuable for students at rural SDSU Imperial Valley who don’t have access to the same traditional simulation facilities available to students at the San Diego campus,” Frazee said.

The new VITaL Research Center will encourage even more interdisciplinary research to create more of these types of new teaching and learning opportunities, including the development of new public-private partnerships between universities and industry. The center will focus on both the San Diego and Imperial Valley (US-Mexico) border region, involving faculty, staff, and students from SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley.

Why now?

A growing body of research indicates that the use of immersive technology simulation promotes student success through increased learner confidence, emotional connection and motivation to learn, said Sean Hauzethe Director of Instructional Technology Services, whose own research at SDSU demonstrated such findings.

Additionally, a landmark PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study suggests that simulation-based learning in virtual reality enables faster but deeper learning compared to traditional classroom or online learning environments, Hauze said, also Lecturer in the School of Education’s Department of Instructional Leadership. .

A student is pictured demonstrating a device at SDSU's new research center dedicated to expanding the use of emerging virtual technologies in the classroom.

These findings are increasingly relevant given the rapidly accelerating technology adoption during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hauze said.

“As a result, post-secondary education is in the midst of unprecedented change,” Hauze said. “In light of these new realities, universities must provide flexible, customizable, and technology-enhanced learning opportunities that allow students to retain access to high-quality education. These needs are driving higher education leaders and faculty to rethink teaching to help faculty plan courses that offer a wise mix of face-to-face and online modalities to promote active learning and engagement. students.

Call for grant proposals

The VITaL Research Center Grant and Faculty Research Fellowship focuses on key long-term foundational research challenges in immersive learning. Fellows will produce transformative research that leads to innovation and generates broad scientific and public interest at SDSU, in the border region, nationally and internationally.

VITaL Research provides an agile structure that can respond quickly to emerging opportunities through enhanced collaborations, and the grant winner will play a strategically important role with the launch of the center. Winners will integrate research, innovation and education, broaden participation and broaden communication within the SDSU community.

The VITaL Faculty Scholarship is open to all SDSU faculty members. The university particularly encourages basic research and project development aligned with budget priorities, including impact on historically challenging coursework (high DFWs) with evaluation criteria targeted at the potential for transformative impact in education and learning. The faculty should submit a preliminary proposal no later than February 28.

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