Welcome to a new year at Stevenson English! As the year begins, we’ll be profiling students and faculty who are working in innovative areas in English, including Digital Studies. In the excerpt below, Stevenson senior English major Marcus Tucker explains the impact of virtual reality technology on his classroom experience in “Introduction to Digital Publishing,” a new course taught by Assistant Professor Amanda Licastro. Dr. Licastro’s use of virtual reality in the classroom was recently featured in The Baltimore Sun.

Marcus writes:

Sometimes 3-D just does not cut it. Certainly, there are moments when viewers feel immersed in a 3-D motion picture, yet if one is in a movie theater, for instance, and decides to turn their head away from the screen, the immersion effect fails. A lot of the time viewers want something more interactive than this. Viewers want something that gives them the power a director has, that ability to look at what he or she wants to look at. Virtual reality gives viewers that power. Virtual reality is created when a setting of any size is completely filmed in 360 degrees. By filming the entire setting, as in doing so from different perspectives, a director is able to combine this footage and recreate the whole setting. Once this process is finished a viewer with virtual reality hardware can access this setting in its entirety despite being physically located anywhere in the world.

In my Introduction to Digital Publishing class at Stevenson University, I had the pleasure of using Google Cardboard to enter a virtual reality. I was struck by how my movements brought me to different areas of the virtual environment. I immediately understood the vast impact virtual reality can have in the classroom setting. An article entitled, “Virtual Reality: Learning Goes to Higher Level,” by Greg Miller talks about the opportunities of virtual reality: “students will be able to go to places that they couldn’t previously go to…say, the inside of King Tut’s tomb,” (Miller). By making classwork more interactive, student participation will grow immensely. New York school teacher, Katrina Roman, can attest to this as, “the topic of ancient history doesn’t usually set students abuzz.” After her students had the experience of of Google Expeditions and visited ancient Aztec ruins they, “shouted out details they noticed,” and “shot [their] hands up to answer…questions” (Quaid).

To read the rest of Marcus’ article and other content from the Digital Publishing class, check out Rhetoripub, the course’s class-authored, collaborative magazine.