Get Involved with Virtual Reality for Language & Culture Learning – A Middlebury Fund for Innovation Project

Earlier this year, the Fund for Innovation approved a $2,000.00 fast track grant to explore the potential of virtual reality in language and intercultural learning contexts. The original FFI proposal, drafted by MIIS graduate student Bryan Gershater, imagined opportunities for MIIS community members to experience both highly immersive VR environments like those available through tools such as the Occulus Rift or the HTC Vive, as well as lower threshold VR encounters with 360 video and images through Google Cardboard viewers, smartphones, and mobile applications.

Here are some ways that you can get involved in the exploration of DLC virtual reality technology.

1. Immerse Yourself 

Use our appointment system to book a 30-60 minute block of time to try out the DLC’s HTC Vive VR equipment. Click on the “Virtual Reality Orientation” service and then select a DLC staff member as your VR assistant.

DLC's HTC Vive


2. Geek Out – Play & Create

The DLC has hosted a number of interactive exploration sessions and brown bag conversations on virtual reality as an emerging technology.

Schedule of Upcoming Events

  • VR Sandbox: Friday, December 1st 2-4pm DLC Lab
  • VR Demo with FLOW Immersive in partnership with META Lab, October 18th 10am – 12pm, DLC Lab
  • Fund for Innovation Fest: Friday, April 7th 10am – 12pm DLC
  • Intro to VR Geek Out: Wednesday, March 15th 4-5pm DLC Design Space

Sessions include opportunities to learn about accessible applications of VR content viewing and creation such as:

  • Interacting with available VR content such as 360 narratives using inexpensive Google Cardboard Viewers and smartphone
  • Exploring Google Street View app with Cardboard and 360 image capture tool
  • Creating 360 images and audio with Google Cardboard camera app (Android/iOS)
  • Prototyping interactive VR content with Thinglink VR editor; for example:

    • Creating 360 videos and images with DLC Theta S camera

iLead+Design 2016 guest stoke exploring improv to improve community action projects with local organizations. Thank you April and Galen! #designthinking #ileaddesign – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

During our Spring VR test kitchen, participants wrote analog tweets reflecting on their interactions with VR and one another. The tweet at right reads, “a small ‘peace’ of hope for VR in the classroom. The guide-experiencer relationship is really special The bond gained through this union of experiencing VR gives me hope for the affective affordances.” During the demo of the Vive, we modeled cooperative learning by creating a guide role and an experiencer role. A person became a guide after they had spent time in the virtual environment. They provided a kind of informal P2P hospitality for the person new to the Vive and VR. This human lifeline proved key to the success of the test kitchen and allowed DLC staff to get out of the way as peers taught one another how to be safe and how to navigate the virtual interface.