At Florida State University, Professor and TekLab collaborator Andy Opel is teaching students how to create immersive, 360 video experiences.
By using Oculus Quest 2 headsets the students were able to meet as a class online in a virtual immersive space. Photo: Andy Opel.
Publisert: 8. september 2021
In the spring of 2021, Professor Andy Opel taught a combined undergraduate/graduate course, known as «Immersive Media Production», at Florida State University (FSU). FSU is TekLabs international partner, and we follow their activities closely. Opel teaches students how to create immersive, 360 video experiences in ways that are highly relevant for TekLab.
Each student has been issued an Oculus Quest 2 headset for the entire semester. This equipment allows them to meet as a class online in a virtual space.
Professor Andy Opel, Florida State University. Photo: www.andyopel.net
– We are working with spatial.io, a software that creates an avatar for each user integrating photos of the users face and offers a variety of tools for instruction, collaboration, and presentation in the virtual classroom, says Opel.
Further, Opel explains that by using the medium to teach the same medium, this virtual classroom space offers a powerful, COVID-safe way to bring students together online and facilitate new forms of collaboration. This unique experience is the result of many years of technological innovation and experimentation, with consistent support from the School of Communication and grant funded support from the Student Tech Fee program.
Enthusiastic and engaged students
According to professor Opel, the students have shown a great interest in immersive media and the course.
– Because immersive media is relatively new and not everyone has spent a lot of time viewing material in this medium, providing students the means to engage material on their own has been a huge advantage. Students began exploring material through the headsets and suggesting content for the class right away. For instance, one student found a VR-documentary Opel was planning to show later in the course, and sent it to him within only a few days of getting the headset.
Teaching emerging technology
Andy Opel enthusiastically tells us that teaching emerging technologies creates a series of ongoing challenges: ever-changing software and hardware, finding resources to keep up to date with the technology, and staying at least one step ahead of the students. Immersive media - virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, 360 3D video, - is experiencing a wave of enthusiasm as affordable headsets become available to consumers.
- Waves of consumer enthusiasm in this realm go back to the mid 1800s, Opel tells us. - Stereographs - stereoscopic images viewed with a hand held viewer - became popular, and over one million stereographs were sold in 1862. While there have been successive waves of boom and bust in the stereographic, immersive industry, the latest technology is showing great promise for education, entertainment, and experiential learning, Opel says.
Continuing collaboration with TekLab
There are plans for at least two collaborations with the Norwegian partners in TekLab during the coming year.
Andy Opel is teaching a special topics workshop in the fall of 2021, where students will be developing AR prototypes while they learn Unity software. They will probably create documentary stories relating to a site that is important to the history of the African American community. There is a possible collaboration with the app provider Hidden.no as well.
During 2022 Opel is planning to teach a collaborative international course together with TekLab partners in Bergen, Stavanger and Volda. The course will integrate several emerging technologies and students will collaborate virtually in the spring of 2022 and hopefully also meet in person in the fall of 2022 or spring of 2023. There are plans for reciprocal visits between Florida and Bergen, Volda and Stavanger, if the COVID19 situation allows.
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