FIU brings Virtual Reality to Realities 360

Bright minds convene each year in San Jose, California, to discuss the latest developments in the use of virtual reality for training and education at the Realities 360 conference.  For the past two years, FIU faculty and staff have been among them, presenting their innovative work to an audience of peers. 

Realities 360-Futures Made Of 

Maikel Alendy and Rodolfo Rego at Realities 360Virtual reality has attracted educators and trainers for the limitless potential it has to engage learners in immersive training simulations.  It’s what drew Earth and Environmental Department Professor Rodolfo Rego, and FIU Online Learning Design Innovation Manager, Maikel Alendy to the technology. They demonstrated their enthusiasm in the 2018 presentation, Beginner’s Guide to Low-Cost, High-Impact Immersive Learning Strategies in Higher Ed.  “Our presentation focused on the innovative strategies the Earth and Environment Department are utilizing and deploying in their residential, hybrid, and online courses,” said Alendy. “Specifically, we discussed the immersive virtual reality and 360 tools we are leveraging to create meaningful experiences and impactful learning gains in environmental online and residential labs.” 

Challenging Reality

Incorporating new technologies in the classroom is not without its challenges.  That’s why Alendy and Rego presented again in 2019 with Lessons from a Year of Cost-Effective Immersive Strategies in Higher Ed. Here, they talked about the two major challenges facing most college classrooms: technology costs and instructional relevance. Attendees learned how to create effective VR assignments on a public institution budget, using tools like Cenario VR, Seekbeak, and GoogleEarth.  

Fostering innovation and addressing challenges faced when incorporating any new technologies in the classroom is something Alendy hopes to achieve in his new position as FIU Online’s Learning Design Innovation Manager. “The mission of my team is to support and equip instructional designers with the tools, theory, and strategies necessary to develop innovative and impactful learning experiences with our faculty.”

Collaborate and Listen

At the heart of VR innovation at FIU Online is a partnership between faculty and their instructional designer. Together they can develop truly exceptional and forward thinking courses. That’s why both Alendy and Rego thought presenting together at Realities 360 was key. “Presenting alongside my faculty member felt like the full fruition of our partnership,” Alendy said.  “We spent time researching and collaborating to create incredible courses, but presenting together both validated the excellent work we did and allowed us to share and grow our pedagogical knowledge through expert feedback and collaboration with faculty and technologists beyond our traditional sphere of influence.”

If you are interested in learning more about implementing VR in your online course, reach out to your instructional designer.

Charles Roig is an instructional designer with the Learning Design team at FIU Online. His work includes researching new tools and collaborating with faculty to foster engagement in online learning.

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