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Perspective | Seeing the future at Haywood Community College

The future of virtual reality is practically limitless, and Haywood Community College (HCC) has already dipped its toes into this immersive technology.

Tim Scapin, HCC’s instructional designer, has helped HCC immeasurably, sharing tools with students and instructors alike. We now have six Oculus headsets, which provide a unique opportunity for students who may not have this experience through other means.

These headsets allow students to have immersive experiences — from being inside a human body to visiting museums halfway around the world. Health and human service instructors can also use them to simulate lab scenarios. With companies like National Geographic, Discovery, and YouTube in the virtual reality game, it’s easy to work with what they have already created to supplement the classroom experience.

HCC has held information sessions to showcase the many features these experiences provide to the classroom. The headsets’ view can also be projected to the large screen so the entire class can share the visuals. This allows instructors to further explain and reinforce their curriculum.

The feedback from instructors has already been positive. Scapin will continue to share the benefits of bringing this technology to the classroom. Instructors can work with the virtual learning department to request specific content, and the next goal is for HCC to create some of this content ourselves — hopefully even working with students.

The new experiences for instructors and students don’t stop there. HCC has also set up a recording space on campus for instructors and students to create their own podcasts. With the popularity of podcasts growing, instructors can record what they would like, and students can listen to the information at their convenience outside of the classroom.

The varying modes of instruction help keep students engaged and reinforce in-the-classroom experiences. Instructors may also use the space for students to create podcasts for projects.

The recording space also offers basic editing software so there is not a need for additional software for the students or instructors. The space just received an upgrade to its sound quality from the generosity of the HCC Foundation. Having the tools available on campus is another way we can ensure technological equality among students.

So what’s next? Continuing to spread the word about these facilities and learning experiences is a top priority. It would also be wonderful to provide a makerspace on campus for all students to use these types of technologies to either create their own content, experience something new, or just decompress for a while.

Michelle Harris

Michelle Harris is the director of marketing and communications at Haywood Community College.