Virtual reality coming to AACC classes in ’19


Daniel Salomon

AACC’s Campus Current Tech Editor Alex Fregger tries out a virtual reality headset for the first time in the college’s VR room in the CALT Building.

Alex Fregger, Tech Editor

AACC is bringing virtual reality—VR—to classes and clubs during the next two years.

Manager of Instructional Technology Cathy Bosse said several programs on campus are looking to integrate VR so it will be more available to students during classes.

VR headsets—high-tech goggles—work by placing a small screen in front of each eye of the wearer. Each screen shows a slightly differ­ent image, tricking the brain into seeing depth and filling the wearer’s vision with a 3D virtual environment.

Bosse said VR is “sub­stituting your reality with something else” and the headset creates “full immer­sion, you’re there. You are underwater, you’re on the moon, you’re there. Every­where you look, up, down, sideways, you’re there in that location.”

With VR in classes, for example, nursing students could watch a simulated human heart undergoing a heart attack, or marine bi­ology students could see the bottom of the ocean, Matt Papa, a second-year comput­er science student, said.

“It’s incredible stuff,” he said.

Michael Ryan, the chair of the Architecture and Inte­rior Design Department, said he is spending the fall semes­ter on sabbatical researching how AACC professors and students can use VR in the classroom.

Ryan said students would learn a technology that they could use when they become professional architects and designers. For example, they might learn how to create 3D models of buildings that their future clients could vir­tually walk through before construction starts.

Ryan said he expects to introduce VR into some of his classes as early as this spring, and to make it part of the department’s curriculum next fall.

Dean Elizabeth Appel said the School of Health Sci­ences might begin using new technologies like VR once the new Health Sciences and Bi­ology Building opens in 2021.

Jacob Bollinger, a first-year physician assistant stu­dent, said if he had the op­portunity to use it, he would be willing to try VR.

Bosse said AACC club members who want to use the VR headsets could contact her to schedule an appointment.