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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT Is Hacking VR With New Class

Encouraging students to be technical, philosophical, and artful within virtual reality.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently created a new makerspace on campus where students are pioneering a medium and technology that is still fresh and developing. This subject area is of course virtual reality (VR) and the space on campus exists within virtual space.

Sandra Rodriguez

In a hands-on humanities class – Virtual Reality and Immersive Media Production – students are learning the ways to ake advantage of this new medium in exicting ways like never before. This includes the understanding how to handle the technical challenges of VR, such as have to prevent fatigue and motion sickness; philosophical questions, such as the different between “presence” and “immersion”; and issues related to the art of story telling within virtual space.

“It takes eight minutes to learn how to make the 360-video camera work. The rest — figuring out the experience you want to make — is your mind,” says instructor Sandra Rodriguez, who first taught the semester-long class in 2017 in collaboration with William Uricchio, professor of comparative media studies.Their class was the first VR class ever to be offered at MIT and ran again this term offering students a chance to get valuable insights and lessons for using in VR creation.

The new VR class appeals to students interesting in the nexus of technology, design, and storytelling. Offered by the Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program, the class relies on technology elements including the Unity game, alongside focusing on the creative works that the technology supports. The class is exploring uncharted areas and looking to invent a new langue, in a manner of speaking, that students can carry with them into later expressions of technology and culture through the immersive medium.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Students are able to gain rich understandings of both the medium and its potential during the class by getting hands on experience with the technology, medium, and possible applications. Students are put into groups during the class and tasked with creating experiences both for VR and augmented reality (AR) with the results ranging from interactive videogames to 360-degree videos centered on life after incarceration.

The one-term class encourages students to push themselves beyond their creative limits and set ambitious goals. Rodriguez tells students that ““It’s about iteration. You have an idea. You try it. You iterate.” adding  “Feel free to fail. That’s the best way to learn.”

With the VR class proving to be a success it suggests a promising future for MIT VR endeavors with a number of students having already secured themselves work within the VR industry. You can be sure to find all the latest about the class in the future right here on VRFocus.

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