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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Waldo VR Lab Nationally Recognized

The American Library Association (ALA) recognizes our Virtual Reality (VR) Lab in Waldo Library in an article about the Future of Libraries in the United States. The page on their website features 3 university libraries as they encourage other libraries to think about their future. . Thanks for showing our program!

More about the WMU VR lab:

Virtual reality offers significant potential in the areas of teaching, learning and research. The VR Lab at Western Michigan University Libraries was started to explore this revolutionary technology as a collaborative effort of the Office of Information Technology and Waldo Library at WMU. Opening the door to broad collaborative possibilities and feeding the curiosities of varied audiences, many people have experienced both the entertainment and educational side of VR content in the lab’s first semester.

Parks and Recreation kids explore Virtual Reality
Set up with 6 stations and supporting over 20 titles the lab is open late staffed with students which works to reach more types of people in a neutral, easily accessible space on campus -- the main library. Workshops on the concepts and technology were taught to millennials and baby boomers alike, fostering more cross-creativity.

Summer brought interest from the county Parks and Recreation ‘All Things Possible’ Program, IT Girl Conference, library staff doing competitions, an autism program, and the Girls Who Code Program at a nearby university.

Workshop for instructors, staff and students

The programs second semester will consist of more workshops (look for soon), recreation department expo visit, multiplayer tournaments, and a library research services department in-depth workshop series for its staff. “Imagine walking into a 14th century manuscript virtually, or a map growing into a 3D space that was just plotted from your research data in layering geospatial software. These are some of the possibilities for teaching and learning.” says Scott Russell, Library IT Director and co-director of the lab.

A Lee Honors College course focuses on technology in the arts and uses the VR Lab to create an experiential environment conveying a sense of place and emotion. A multimedia journalism course is utilizing 360-degree documentary video allowing viewers more interaction. “The potential is extremely broad . . .” says Kevin Abbott, Interactive Media Specialist and co-director of the lab.

VR is poised to be an important tool in teaching, learning and research.

Library staff explore with a friendly lunchtime contest

Lab staff consult with students on final team project