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VR Lab Opens Doors at Lone Star College-Tomball

A Texas college's Experience Lab, with 16 Meta Quest 2 Oculus headsets that allow users to interact within computer-generated environments, is helping professors add new dimensions and sensory aspects to their lessons.

(TNS) — Lone Star College-Tomball introduced a new on-campus lab where virtual reality technology is helping students learn through computer-generated real-world simulations.

The Experience Lab, managed by the multimedia services department, features 16 Meta Quest 2 Oculus headsets and allows users to interact within computer-generated environments.

"The best way to learn is to do. But sometimes, actively doing something is not possible. That's where VR and the Experience Lab come in," Julissa Guajardo, LSC-Tomball video production and VR technician, said in a press release.

Associate professor of English Ginger Fray incorporated the VR technology into one of her lessons. Fray assigned a reading of "The Best We Could Do," by Thy Bui, about the life of a Vietnamese family. As an introduction to the memoir, she invited her class to experience the sights and sounds of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, through the VR goggles via YouTube 360 Video.

"The results were simply staggering," she said in the release. "Immediately after the VR lab experience, the students made connections from their own lives in their class journals, and they began reading the book the minute we returned to class. It was as if they could not wait to get started on the memoir after they had experienced a slice of the culture around which the book is centered."

Fray's class wasn't the only one at the college to use the new Experience lab. Professor Brandon Lowery, who teaches biology and environmental science, used the lab to take his classes on virtual field trips.

"People are little uncertain about VR at first, but after they try it, they're like, 'Oh, it's so easy,'" he said in the release. "Once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze, and the students love it. In the end, VR is going to benefit everybody."

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