AVID VR event photo

Faculty and staff gathered at the Communications and Media Building at UCF's Downtown Campus on Friday for the second AVID AR VR Innovation Discovery event, which allows participants to dive into virtual reality and augmented reality experiences being developed at UCF.

UCF faculty and staff gathered in the Communications and Media Building at UCF's Downtown campus for the second AVID: AR/VR Innovation Discovery event on Friday afternoon. 

The Innovation Discovery event gives UCF faculty and staff a chance to get their hands on augmented reality and virtual reality experiences, while also getting a chance to talk and network with the creators of the experiences themselves, according to the event's official website.

The overall goal of the event itself is to spread the word about the usage of AR and VR in education and give the attendees a chance to see first-hand how others are implementing the technology, according to the event's official website.

According to the Franklin Institute, AR "adds digital elements to a live view," while VR brings a "complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world." An example of AR technology would be something like "Pokémon Go," while an example of VR technology would be something like the Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR headsets.

A number of different VR experiences were available to demo at the Innovation Discovery event. This included an escape room VR game that tasked players with solving puzzles, the "Endless Runner" educational game that helps people learn new languages and a version of the "Middle Passage" VR experience, which thrusts players into the perspective of slaves.

Faculty Multimedia Center Manager Arianna Davis said that she hopes the event will be beneficial to faculty when it comes to their own projects.

"They get to talk to other people and network and meet people who are working on these things and maybe find the missing piece of what they're trying to do with their research or step closer with something they are thinking about doing or want to accomplish in the realm of augmented reality or virtual reality," Davis said.

One presenter was John Murray, an assistant professor in the games and interactive media department.

Murray showed off a couple experiences at the event that were created by one of his senior classes from last semester. He said that he wants the attendees to walk away with "a desire to learn more."

"They're getting a lot of this in a way that most people don't get such first exposures," Murray said. "What we're doing is we're presenting like, 'how is this relevant to their context as researchers, instructors, or faculty?'"

While Murray said he doesn't see VR or AR being used in classrooms, he does think the technology can be used in a more supplemental way.

"The main place [I see it being used] is actually outside of the classroom," Murray said. "I do see students that need extra help getting help in a VR environment: taking VR field trips, going to a VR facility in either a school or university to do assignments or things."

Emily Johnson, another assistant professor in the games and interactive media department, was showing off experiences at the event. Johnson said she agreed with that sentiment, but added that she could also see the technology being used more in the "homework" realm. 

According to the AVID website, there are plans to host more AR and VR discovery events in the future.

Project coordinator for the Pegasus Innovation Lab Nicole Stahl said over email that the plan is to hold one event per fall and spring semester with the possibility of holding an event in summer if there is an interest from students. 

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