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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Virtual reality opens new doors in education | Florida Flambeau

"With a new year of research, development and expansion underway at Florida State, the university and its thriving academic staff continue to explore new, creative teaching methods and innovative educational outlets to preserve in-class interactions and increase academic interest on and off campus." notes Alex Burnham, Staff Writer.

The Westcott Building at FSU
Photo: Courtesy of the Tallahassee Democrat

Florida State and its faculty are revolutionizing how students approach, interact and learn from class material by expanding opportunities found within the classroom and by, quite literally, expanding the classroom.

Florida State University currently offers two science-based courses that operate within a 3-D virtual reality and rely on virtual-life classrooms. Through Chant Newall Development Group, CNDG—a full-service provider of virtual-world based solutions for the education and business sectors—students are able to create an avatar in a program known as Second Life and see their classroom come to life while exploring virtual worlds.

“It was very interesting presenting a situation that you can’t really bring up in a regular classroom,” said Florida State student Chris Ortiz who took a chemistry lab using Second Life.

The two professors who have spearheaded the virtual reality effort at Florida State, William (Bill) Landing and Stephanie Dillon, believe that the highly-detailed virtual settings help keep students focused and provide the class an alternative to reviewing slideshows or listening to an in-class lecture.

“There were moments, though, where I wish I was in an actual chem lab. There were some compatibility issues…the program could have ran a little better,” added Ortiz. “It’s an interesting start to something that could definitely be smoother in the future.”

The virtual reality program Second Life is celebrating its thirteenth year as the largest 3-D virtual world created entirely by its users, with thousands of creators around the world consistently developing new content and new virtual opportunities.

Source: Florida Flambeau