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XR Enhances Online, Classroom Learning Experiences

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3D model of a human skull

Students can click on various labels of a 3D model of a human skull to learn the different anatomical parts of the bone.

Credit: Sandra Garver / SDSU

Extended reality technology is allowing students at California State University to walk across the surface of Mars, dive to the depths of the ocean, or perform biological dissections, even while most instruction is currently online.

Extended reality takes students "inside the Barrier Reef, back in time to historical events, to Mars, and to other educational scenarios that are either low-frequency, high-risk, or impossible," says Sean Hauze, director of instructional technology services at San Diego State University. "And now the definition of impossible has been expanded, given that the vast majority of our courses are virtual . . . and immersive learning is the key to make this all possible."

Extended reality refers to immersive technologies that blend real and virtual environments, including virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality.

"Immersing the student in an environment allows them to be more engaged in that environment and helps them learn more about what the material is that they're looking at," says Sara Kassis, Sonoma State physics professor and faculty fellow for immersive learning. "I find it's more engaging and allows students to be focused on a particular topic."

Kassis created an app for physics students who were having trouble visualizing the electric current flow and building circuits on a breadboard. Using a mixed reality headset, students see 3D images of current flows demonstrating their mechanics and can practice building a circuit before trying it in real life. "The hope was that they could enhance their experience and remember the essential information," Kassis says.

From California State University
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