Kent State unveils new VR classroom

Morning Journal/Stephanie Ujhelyi Technology instructor Rachael Esterly guides nursing professor Angela Douglass, wearing the virtual reality goggles, through an intimate look at one of the human body’s various organs during a demonstration last week.

EAST LIVERPOOL — Kent State University’s East Liverpool officially unveiled a new virtual reality classroom, which will provide students and staff with technology that will greatly enhance learning experiences across several areas of study.

Monday morning, officials viewed the new space in the first floor of Purinton Hall that allows officials to create a virtual reality to create an “artificial environment” for participants to use body movements and their senses of sight and sound to replicate experiencing first hand experiences.

“The (virtual reality) images are extremely realistic, and the user can interact with virtual features or items projected into the artificial environment,” explained Tina Smith, who coordinates public relations for both Columbiana County campuses. “The experience is created using head-mounted goggles, a handheld controller and sophisticated software. A wall-mounted screen allows other students in the classroom to view similar images simultaneous.

This room, which was created by converting a former classroom with new furniture and computer technology, was designed and partially funded through contributions from the Kent State Center for Teaching and Learning as well as Heritage Thermal Inc.

A similar room was debuted last year at KSU’s Salem campus.

“The virtual reality learning lab, first and foremost, will help to support students’ learning and research,” noted Dr. David Dees, dean and chief administration officer both campuses. “As faculty engage with this technology, they will discover new approaches to learning that improve students’ long term recall of critical course concepts. This lab is a shining example of combining innovative research with student access to opportunity. This truly models who we are at Kent State University East Liverpool.”

Last week, KSU nursing instructors learned to utilize the technology, so they could implement it in their curriculum.

The technology and its supporting software can create learning experiences for most major subject areas, including anatomy, geography, chemistry, math, psychology and history.

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