OVRAS | an Enhaced Reality for Teaching

Virtual reality has showed promising results in creating a sense of immersion that enhances the understanding of perceived visual information, as well as simulating the feeling of social presence. We take advantage of these features to develop a classroom and scientific labs in virtual space in order to improve online and scientific formal and informal education.

Furthermore, there are infinite number of models or environments that can be generated in VR but not in real life due to technological, cost, or safety restraints, so we have developed a platform that allows multiple users to collaboratively interact with models such as 3D data sets, particle simulators, and 3D meshes as if they were directly in front of them.

We leverage User Experience (UX) methodologies to observe actual lectures and educational laboratories at Caltech, in order to identify the main issues present in real settings, and explore opportunities to develop better solutions enabled by the use of VR.

_ about
"Using observations, we implemented a model of a classroom in VR, capable of supporting multiple users with the goal of improving the interaction between students and instructors, focusing on maximizing their efficiency in communication and ease in hands-on activities, bringing forth new and more effective ways of teaching."
From our research we were able to reveal and then focus on the following common educational issues:

  1. Enabling more efficient ways allow for answers and questions between students at instructors
  2. Enabling ways for teachers to quickly survey or quiz the students.
  3. Enabling ways for students to express confusion or lack of understanding without negative social impacts.
  1. Enabling better sharing of slides and notes, that allow students to keep up with a presentation, or review previous slides if needed.
  2. Ability to take manual/handwritten notes in VR.
  3. Ability to have a instructor, or a common shared blackboard.
  4. Ability to create breakout groups within the context of a common classroom/lab space.
Following, we started the creation of the infrastructure that would allow for:
  1. A single VR space, under the control of a instructor/host.
  2. Shared audio, with audio controls at the instructor’s discretion.
  3. Shared assets in the shape of slides or notes.
  4. A multi-user space that dynamically accommodates the expected number of students, each with a virtual desk space furnished with enhanced learning interaction controls.
# actionable insights
The infrastructure of the ERT application was constructed such that the teacher and students have different personalized user experiences. Upon starting the application, the user appears in the lobby, where they will be able to see the entire classroom and the alcoves surrounding the main room.
[left] entry into space, lobby. [middle] student chooses desk. [right] instructor teleports to front desk hotspot.
If the user is a student, they can teleport to one of the several desks in the room. However, if they are a teacher, they will teleport to the teacher desk in front of the classroom, where they can see all the students. #role based
Every desk is designed with different buttons, each which performs a specific role. The student desk consists of four buttons lettered A-D on the left side of the desk; these buttons imitate the idea of clicker questions, where students answer multiple choice questions anonymously using a clicker. The right side of the desk contains a question button and a confusion button.
When students press these buttons to ask a question or express confusion, the teacher will be immediately notified while the other students around the room will not, reinforcing the idea of anonymity.
The buttons and screens on the teacher desk involve different controls, such as the ability to mute certain students, view student answers to questions, and access questions and confusions students express. These functions are given only to the teacher and cannot be used or viewed by the student, highlighting the separate roles and abilities of the two different roles. These personalized experiences give members the feel of being in an actual classroom, helping foster a productive learning environment.
#desk design
[left] student expresses confusion by pressing a button, [right] instructor discretely gets a notice of a student having expressed confusion
View from instructors desk, seeing student simple avatar for 'May' looking around.
_ project lead : santiago v lombeyda
_ research & room and desk design : lucy chen
_ research & network communications : netra ravishankar
_ research & calibration : maya srikanth
_ center director : george djorgovski
_ team
_ george djorgovski
_ jim barry
_ cassandra horii
_ mathieu desbrun
_ collaborators
_ with support from the CENTER for DATA DRIVEN DISCOVERY
_ with support from Caltech's CENTER for TEACHING, LEARING, & OUTREACH
_ with donations from MICROSOFT
_ with donations from LOGITECH
_ with donations from NVIDIA
_ with donations from HTC
_ acknowledgements