Immersive Tech Changes How SIT Students Learn
SIT ramps up its AR, VR and MR offerings in learning and applied research as immersive technology is increasingly adopted in education and innovation
Immersive technology – a broad term that commonly refers to augmented, virtual, and mixed reality (AR, VR and MR) – is used to make teaching and learning experiences more engaging at SIT.
It is one of the ways Assoc Prof Tan Chek Tien uses to make online lectures interesting for his Computer Science students. In one 360-degree recording video, he was seen decked in full cycling gear as he made his way to the lecture theatre in SIT@NYP Building to deliver his lecture. It was also a nod to a semester-long project the students had worked on, using virtual reality to educate cyclists on safe riding habits.
In another video, he placed a red dinosaur plushie in the audience and gave bonus points to students who could answer who else was in the room with him in a pop quiz at the end of the lesson.
Although it took more effort than usual to record these videos, they were effective and fairly simple ways of using immersive technology to make online lectures interesting for students.
“We know that sometimes students can disengage, so I put in Easter eggs for them to pick out, to gamify the lecture through immersive technology tools,” Assoc Prof Tan said. He added, “students gave good feedback about the lessons.”
Immersive technology also includes virtual reality headsets, 360-degree cameras, and smart glasses. These tech tools are used to simulate real-world experiences for students, so they get to practice their skills in a safe and controlled environment before trying their hand at the real deal.
Applying Real Skills on Virtual Machines
At SIT, Pharmaceutical Engineering students are required to culture cells in a bioreactor machine as part of their lab work. However, their opportunities were limited as there was only one such unit in school and not all students were proficient enough to operate them. Hence, virtual reality – by getting students to work on a simulation of a bioreactor – was one way to bridge the gap.
With the virtual copy of the bioreactor, students are transported to a virtual world after putting on specialised virtual reality goggles and they could then practice culturing cells in the simulated environment.
Exploring the Potential of Immersive Tech
Targeted to be ready by the third quarter of 2021, SIT’s upcoming Centre for Immersification aims to deepen Singapore’s applied research in immersive technology, and develop solutions and tools that can be used not just in SIT, but also shared with the industry and the public.
“We are creating a strong foothold in SIT to do research in the immersive technology space. We want to explore how we can make immersive technology more accessible to everyone,” Assoc Prof Tan said.
The university is currently working on more than 10 applied research projects that focus on immersive technologies, in collaboration with various industry partners.