Gabe Baker and Peter Campbell
Note: This post was co-authored by Gabe Baker, Global Education Manager at WorldViz, and Peter Campbell, Founder of xpereal.
WorldViz and Bellevue College teamed up on March 3 to help Bellevue teachers and students get their feet wet with VR creation and collaboration. The leading force at Bellevue that helped drive the event was the duo of James Riggall and Bruce Wolcott, two professors that are co-teaching a course about virtual reality. They are keenly interested in virtual reality for learning, training, collaboration, and more. We can't say enough good things about these two VR pioneers, and I look forward to seeing how they drive the space forward. Without them, this event wouldn't have been possible.
We would have used the word "Hackathon" for the event, but that would have been a misnomer since the software Bellevue chose for this event, Vizible, doesn't require any programming at all. So we went for "PlanJam". When the event kicked off, I held a one-hour long session with the attendees that showed everyone how to use the Vizible Presentation Designer, the drag-and-drop VR creation platform from WorldViz, and then how to publish their creations as multi-user, collaborative environments. The attendees came from a few different disciplines, e.g. interior design, communication, and game development. Attendees had a few hours to see what they could cook up.
PlanJam had a few goals:
1) See whether attendees could begin creating with the Vizible Presentation Designer after a quick tutorial.
2) Get attendees to actually create VR presentations that they could see, show off, and use as collaborative environments after just a few hours.
3) Gather feedback from attendees about what they'd like to see next in Vizible and what could be improved.
From all perspectives, the PlanJam was a resounding success. The group decided to work together on a few different VR experiences, and Vizible was the perfect tool for this because it allows collaborative editing (like a Google Doc, but for VR creation). There were a few hiccups along the way due to 3D model workflow, and we gathered good feedback about how we can improve the experience.
By the end of the session, the groups had indeed cooked up a few simple yet provocative VR experiences. One group created an interior design exploration experience using models from Sketchup. Another group created a VR experience that showed dinosaurs at scale so that viewers in VR could see how puny they looked in comparison. Because VR experiences created with Vizible Presentation Designer can be used as collaborative environments, I was able to meet some of the attendees inside of their creations from Santa Barbara for real time communication and collaborative exploration.
We closed out the session by meeting with the attendees over a video conference to debrief and hear their thoughts about how it went. For a few of the attendees, it was their first time experiencing, let alone creating VR. They were surprised and pleased that these things were now at their fingertips, and there was excitement in the air while they talked about how they could use Vizible in their particular classrooms to drive their learning or collaboration goals forward. We also gathered some good feedback on how we can make improvements to the user interface of Vizible, particularly around the workflow for importing 3D models from different sources.
It's not easy getting people to give up their Saturdays to explore new technology and learning tools. We're deeply grateful to the folks at Bellevue that came together for this, and we're happy that they got value out of it. Historically, building sophisticated VR experiences has required programmers, and building multi-user VR experiences requires even more developers. The PlanJam at Bellevue demonstrated that with Vizible and Vizible Presentation Designer, you just need imaginative people.
Are you interested in holding a PlanJam with teachers and students at your school? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org