Feeling is Believing: Augmented and Virtual Reality Symposium

March 23, 2018

Sponsored by the Office of eLearning and the Department of Communications


Explore the ways that VR and AR can help students develop empathy and explore diverse experiences, people, and cultures. You will have the opportunity to try out these applications yourself and hear how AR and VR can be used for teaching in a variety of disciplines.

Free admission for University of New Haven faculty, staff, and students. $15 for other registrants.

Register Now


Virtual Reality
Schedule

8:30 - 8:55 a.m.
Registration and coffee, tea.
Location: Room 301, Henry Lee Building

9:00 - 9:05 a.m.
Welcome and Keynote Introduction: Bonnie Riedinger, director of eLearning
Location: Room 301, Henry Lee Building

9:05 - 10:00 a.m.
Keynote: Social Behavior and Virtual Reality Environments
Speaker: Dr. Michael Casale

Virtual reality (VR) environments have afforded researchers a powerful new tool to study and understand a variety of social behaviors. Dr. Casale will discuss some of the important results generated from these research efforts, particularly focusing on the construct of empathy. In addition, he will discuss implications for training social behavior using VR environments.

Dr. Michael Casale is a cognitive neuroscientist whose research focuses on understanding the biological underpinnings of learning and memory. His research helps understand how best optimize training for visual learning situations as well what understanding how to best train individuals so that learning transfers from one learning situation to another (e.g., from film session to game situations). He has also led multi-year / multi-million dollar research projects aimed at understanding how virtual technologies can be used to facilitate the effectiveness of behavioral therapy and the brain basis underlying such processes. His work has been published dozens of times in notable peer-reviewed journals such as Memory & Cognition and the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. At STRIVR, Dr. Casale is able to blend his academic and applied research expertise to help develop training methodologies that optimize performance.

10:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Break

10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a..m.
First Breakout Sessions

Immersive Empathy in Shared VR Experiences

Presented by: Erin Washington
Location: Maxcy 226

How can we engage students in conversations around topics that matter? We know from our colleagues in both Literature and Film that shared reading or viewing of a book or film is an effective way to do this. Virtual reality (VR) provides a way for students to have a shared, immersive experience that can engage them in a similar, innovative way. This interactive talk will explore two such experiences and invite participants to engage with each other around these topics, in addition to providing information about trends in XR (mixed reality, including virtual and augmented reality) in higher ed in general, and some best practices for implementing these tools in the classroom

Erin Washington is the Head of Curriculum Design & Assessment at Embodied Labs, an educational technology company whose mission is to create VR-enabled software that equips and empowers healthcare professionals and students to deliver patient-centered care, particularly for vulnerable populations. Erin has a decade of experience working at small liberal arts colleges as a tenure-track faculty librarian and library administrator. In her various roles, she was the most passionate about instructional design and using technology effectively in the classroom to engage every learner. She has a master's degree in information science from the University of Maryland. Erin is excited about using VR to empower learners, drive behavioral change, foster insight and understanding, and improve learning outcomes.

Immersive Portals Connect Students in Global Learning

Presented by: Kathryn Mammel
Location: Room 301 Henry Lee Building

Shared Studios Director of Strategic Initiatives, Kathryn Mammel will show how university students around the world have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in new communities, cultures, beliefs, and values in virtual reality portals. Each connection focuses on a theme or series of common topics such as art and community, migration, nations or current events. Students from Harvard University, Boston College, Yale University and the University of Maryland have explored topics such as:

  • Life in a Disputed Territory: Students speak with residents of Kashmir, a territory in Northern India that is also claimed by both Pakistan and China. Discussions cover life in a disputed territory and larger ideas of nationalism and how we use our birthplace and location to define ourselves.
  • My Experience fleeing Syria and Resettling in Germany: Students hear from a Syrian refugee who fled to Europe and is now rebuilding his life as a computer engineer in Germany. Conversations cover the Syrian civil war, the refugee experience, computer science entrepreneurship, and contemporary German politics.
  • The Blues in Music Today: Students speak with a blues musician in Chicago about how the Blues came to Chicago and how they can hear its influence in music today. Students listen to and play instruments where available.

Kathryn Mammel oversees strategic planning, legal affairs, and partnerships for Shared Studios, the arts and technology collective behind golden communication "Portals" popping up all over the world. Before joining the Shared_Studios team, Kathryn worked as an attorney at an international law firm. She previously worked at the Supreme Court of the United States and in the ancient marketplace of Athens. Kathryn has an A.B. in Classical Archaeology from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She hails from central Florida and is now based in New Haven, Connecticut.

How Avatar Mediated Experiences influence Perceptions, Attitudes and Learning

Presented by: Kristine Nowak
Location: Maxcy 118A

Interactive virtual environments (IVEs) allow people to engage in perspective taking, where they experience the world as it might be seen by another. People can embody a coral reef at the bottom of the ocean whose limbs were breaking off because of an increasingly acidic ocean, or a cow being herded to the slaughterhouse. The ability to provide perspective taking experiences in IVE has increased empathy and engagement more than videos depicting the same experiences. University of Connecticut Associate Professor Kristine Nowak will discuss how people learn in IVEs and how this can increase increased empathy for other people, animals, and even nature.

Kristine Nowak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Connecticut. She is interested person perception, identity, persuasion, and information processing, and how these processes are influenced by the way the message is presented, with particular attention to how these processes change with the use of social media and new technologies. Several projects have examined how people use different types of avatars in computer mediated interactions and how the perception of those avatars influence identification and self-concept as well as person and message perception. Her research on human computer interaction evaluates systems and makes recommendations for the best type of system design for different messages or goals as well as how the use of specific systems for learning and persuasion. Her work has been published in several journals including the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Computers and Human Behavior, Journal of Communication, Media Psychology, and Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments.

11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Break

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.
Second Breakout sessions

Immersive Portals Connect Students in Global Learning

Presented by: Kathryn Mammel
Location: Room 301 Henry Lee Building

Shared Studios Director of Strategic Initiatives, Kathryn Mammel will show how university students around the world have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in new communities, cultures, beliefs, and values in virtual reality portals. Each connection focuses on a theme or series of common topics such as art and community, migration, nations or current events. Students from Harvard University, Boston College, Yale University and the University of Maryland have explored topics such as:

  • Life in a Disputed Territory: Students speak with residents of Kashmir, a territory in Northern India that is also claimed by both Pakistan and China. Discussions cover life in a disputed territory and larger ideas of nationalism and how we use our birthplace and location to define ourselves.
  • My Experience fleeing Syria and Resettling in Germany: Students hear from a Syrian refugee who fled to Europe and is now rebuilding his life as a computer engineer in Germany. Conversations cover the Syrian civil war, the refugee experience, computer science entrepreneurship, and contemporary German politics.
  • The Blues in Music Today: Students speak with a blues musician in Chicago about how the Blues came to Chicago and how they can hear its influence in music today. Students listen to and play instruments where available.

Kathryn Mammel oversees strategic planning, legal affairs, and partnerships for Shared Studios, the arts and technology collective behind golden communication "Portals" popping up all over the world. Before joining the Shared_Studios team, Kathryn worked as an attorney at an international law firm. She previously worked at the Supreme Court of the United States and in the ancient marketplace of Athens. Kathryn has an A.B. in Classical Archaeology from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She hails from central Florida and is now based in New Haven, Connecticut.

Virtual Reality in the Fine Arts

Presented by: David Livingston
Location: Maxcy 226

University of New Haven faculty member David Livingston will discuss his artwork and how his new familiarity with VR design and digital 3D design has changed his practice. He also will talk about assignments he developed for his VR students, and present a few of their projects.

David Livingston is a Practitioner in Residence in the Art & Design Department of the College of Arts and Sciences of the College of Arts and Sciences. He taught a Virtual Design course in fall 2017. He is a multimedia artist whose work explores politics and the collective unconscious. He is most known for his fabric soft sculptures, public performances on the streets of New York, and his campaign run for Alderman of New Haven's 31st District. In the past year he has begun to incorporate 3D digital fabrication and virtual reality experiences into his artistic practice. He has exhibited his work nationally and had his work featured on the French television show L'Oeil de Links. In 2016 Livingston had a solo exhibition in collaboration with Franklin Street Works in Stamford, CT funded by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County. For the exhibition, entitled Vote Your Conscience, a monitor playing an absurd campaign ad was installed in the lobby of the Ferguson Library. Library goers were encouraged to respond via pencil and paper to a series of open-ended questions about the video and their place in American society, and then submit their written responses to a ballot box. After two months Livingston wove together the submitted statements into a 20-minute political speech that offered campaign pledges and statements that were often in direct opposition to one another. Through his installation, viewers were encouraged to think about and question the way in which politicians use stagecraft and delivery rather than concrete facts to convince voters. Most recently he has created digital 3D environments in which users can explore and climb on drawings that he has modeled into virtual geological forms.

How Avatar Mediated Experiences influence Perceptions, Attitudes and Learning

Presented by: Kristine Nowak
Location: Maxcy 118A

Interactive virtual environments (IVEs) allow people to engage in perspective taking, where they experience the world as it might be seen by another. People can embody a coral reef at the bottom of the ocean whose limbs were breaking off because of an increasingly acidic ocean, or a cow being herded to the slaughterhouse. The ability to provide perspective taking experiences in IVE has increased empathy and engagement more than videos depicting the same experiences. University of Connecticut Associate Professor Kristine Nowak will discuss how people learn in IVEs and how this can increase increased empathy for other people, animals, and even nature.

Kristine Nowak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Connecticut. She is interested person perception, identity, persuasion, and information processing, and how these processes are influenced by the way the message is presented, with particular attention to how these processes change with the use of social media and new technologies. Several projects have examined how people use different types of avatars in computer mediated interactions and how the perception of those avatars influence identification and self-concept as well as person and message perception. Her research on human computer interaction evaluates systems and makes recommendations for the best type of system design for different messages or goals as well as how the use of specific systems for learning and persuasion. Her work has been published in several journals including the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Computers and Human Behavior, Journal of Communication, Media Psychology, and Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments.

12:45 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Lunch and Speaker

The Power of Virtual Storytelling

Presented by: Michael Nichols of AbleCine
Location: Room 301, Henry Lee Building

Learn how immersive storytelling can enhance learning, empathy, and engagement.

Michael Nichols is the Lead VR Product Specialist & Strategist at AbelCine. As business development manager, Nichols oversees new and existing business in New York and Los Angeles, as well as identifying new technologies and how they can be used across professional fields.. He introduces and trains professionals in varied disciplines from academia, healthcare to the advertising industry and the major motion picture industry on the how virtual reality can be used. Before joining AbelCine's rental department in June of 2008, Mike was the head of production for a NY-based commercial production company, Zooma Zooma, whose clients included Nike, McDonald's, Sony and Kodak. In 2000, he was invited to the Cannes Film Festival as part of Kodak's Emerging Filmmakers Program. In 2011, Mike's first feature film, BreadCrumbs, was released worldwide. Recent co-producing credits include A Woman, A Part and 11:55 Holyoke, which was executive produced by John Leguizamo.

1:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Hands-on demos of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Presented by: Michael Nichols, Erin Washington, David Livingston, Michael Casale, and Adam Rainear (Representing the University of Connecticut).
Location: Student Glass Dining Room, Bartels Campus Center

Location