Monico and Vaughn employ virtual reality for teaching and learning

Carmen Monico, assistant professor of human service studies, and Michael Vaughn, instructional technologist, partnered to engage students in virtual-reality experiences, conduct research and develop a training workshop.

The use of virtual reality in teaching and learning has been was found to increase students’ ability to engage across cultures and in global settings and to prepare them for study abroad and international service delivery. 

Human Service Studies faculty Carmen Monico and instructional technologist Michael Vaughn partnered to test virtual reality in eight courses taught by the faculty during the 2017-18 academic year with an emphasis on global experience and social justice. They found that although the benefits are evident, the challenges are considerable. Yet they believe higher education going global can be strengthened with the use of virtual reality in the classroom. 

With a small grant from the Academic Technology and Computing Committee (ATACC), the team acquired a set of 25 VDRs and supplemental materials, identified relevant theories, and formulated a questionnaire for individual reflection and group discussion during a class period. The virtual-reality experience consisted in explaining theories related to emotional intelligence, intercultural development and competence, and a set of zones of learning.

Students are then were introduced to the technology used (VR goggles) and shown two to three 360-degree videos selected for an immersion experience on international migration and women’s reproductive rights. At the end, students are asked to complete a questionnaire and later engage in a class discussion. This approach was used in eight global experience and human services courses during the course of two years, with 145 students participating. Besides conducting an extensive literature review, the team analyzed student feedback collected and summarized results into a manuscript for submission later in the summer.  

The team developed a 60- to 70-minute training workshop as an opportunity to share research results with faculty and staff from various universities across the country in several teaching and learning events.

At Elon, the team presented during the 15th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference on Aug 16, 2018, and a Teaching and Learning Workshop held on Oct. 30, 2018. In addition, they presented at the 11th Annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy held at the Virginia Tech on Feb. 1, 2019, They reproduced the workshop with Belk Library Systems Librarian Jerry Waller during the 10th annual TLC virtual conference organized by the University of Idaho's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Distance and Extended Education and held on Feb. 13, 2019.

A full recording of the virtual reality workshop may be found here.