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Bringing the classroom to students through virtual reality

Students who are unable to attend in-person classes in the future could still get the full classroom experience, thanks to emerging virtual environment technologies.

Weiyu Feng uses virtual reality goggles to experience a classroom he is not physically in. Through the goggles, he can see classmate Will Slama in a realistic setting rather than on screen.

Weiyu Feng uses virtual reality goggles to experience a classroom he is not physically in. Through the goggles, he can see classmate Will Slama in a realistic setting rather than on screen.

Oct. 13, 2020

University of Missouri engineering students are testing out the future of virtual learning this semester in a virtual reality class taught by Fang Wang, an assistant teaching professor in the Information Technology program.

The socially distanced, in-person class uses sophisticated computer hardware and equipment to immerse students through virtual reality (VR). “Educational engagement is an area we were exploring anyway, in terms of VR application,” Wang said. “It just happens that now we are in a situation to try it ourselves.”

In addition to VR goggles, Wang is experimenting with a telepresence robot. The two-wheeled driving robot is mounted with an iPad and allows instructors to visit a classroom and interact with students even when they’re not physically there.

“We see a lot more students interested in virtual and augment reality,” Wang said. “There’s excitement around this new technology, and they recognize that this is a marketable skill.”

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