Virtual Reality in the Arts

Lindenwood Integrates New Technology to Expand Creativity

Lindenwood students will use Virtual Reality this spring to hold Art History classes at sites around the world like the Pyramids of Giza and the Colosseum.

Lindenwood University has fully integrated virtual reality technologies into classes in the Division of Art and Design. All students taking Art History and Visual Culture courses will supplement their understanding of art and historical monuments around the world with virtual reality experiences, whether on campus in the Media and Gaming Lab, Makerspace, or in their own homes.

Through applications like Wander, students will meet with instructors at sites around the world to hold virtual class “on location” around the world. Art and Design students will begin using virtual reality applications to design and create art, and then export for exhibition.

Lindenwood faculty will also start learning how to integrate immersive reality experiences in their courses from business to the sciences.

Google paved the way with the launch of its much-hyped Tilt Brush for the HTC Vive headset in 2015. But beyond the novelty of painting into thin air, Facebook's Quill was created to propel illustration filmmaking. Now Oculus has tapped into character art with its VR 3D modeling experience. Lindenwood has added Oculus Rift headsets to its digital arts program for painting, 3D modeling and sculpting in Virtual Reality.

Starting this fall, all students in the division will have the Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality headsets, released last October, to use for their own coursework, learning, artwork, and exploration, either in the classroom or at home. 

"The potential benefits of integrating immersive realities into higher education have been touted over the last two decades, but budgetary and technical constraints of implementation have limited its adoption,” explains James Hutson, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of Online and Graduate Programs in the School of Arts, Media, and Communications. “However, recent advances in technology, along with a lower-price point for hardware and more friendly user interfaces has opened a path for 2021 to see the widescale adoption of the technology. In fact, by 2021, 60% of U.S.-based higher education institutions will intentionally use VR to create an enhanced simulation and learning environment."

Lindenwood University has supported VR technology through the VR Lab, Media and Gaming Lab and the Makerspace for the past several years. Dr. Hutson says that with the release of the new Oculus Quest 2, the University is now able to expand that to all students. The built-in wireless functionality of the new unit renders the need for an additional laptop or desktop unnecessary, making it ideal for home use. 

“Students across the School of Arts, Media, and Communications will each have their own headset to engage with course content, travel virtually to locations discussed in classes and join their classmates, and network across the globe. While the world got smaller during the pandemic with face-to-face interaction limited both in and out of the classroom, this is the ideal time to expand the world of our students and faculty and provide them with real global and immersive experiences."

This VR technology will also be used by Lindenwood in its community outreach & engagement efforts. Expanding on the virtual exhibitions that were held last spring in the Boyle Family Gallery, those exhibitions can now be filmed using a VR camera and uploaded for viewing by the worldwide arts community.

The content will expand Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 with the filming of performances in the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts. Additional educational applications will be created starting Fall 2023 as new expertise in the field of immersive realities develops.   

“Students across the School of Arts, Media, and Communications will each have their own headset to engage with course content, travel virtually to locations discussed in classes and join their classmates, and network across the globe."

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