In this short social media video developed by Nicole Beattie for Bellevue College web marketing, James Riggall and Bruce Wolcott provide an overview of virtual reality at the college.
The virtual reality communications courses at Bellevue College are among the first undergraduate classes offered in “XR” technologies in the Pacific Northwest. XR refers to “extended reality” or “mixed reality” – a range of technology-enhanced experiences that enhance human perception, ranging from full immersion to information augmentation, as seen in the diagram below.
Rec Room Virtual Playground and Communications Hub
Rec Room is a multi-user shared immersive virtual environment created by innovative designers and programmers at the Seattle-based company, Against Gravity.
Bruce and James recently visited Against Gravity community designer Shawn Whiting within Rec Room. Everyone arrived wearing their custom-made avatar outfits. James (on the right) is dressed in a tailored suit while Shawn (left) came to our meeting in a flight suit.
Bruce took this photo using a virtual camera that produced an image that could be passed around and shared with others in the lounge.
Rec Room Features
Rec Room is designed from the ground up as an immersive shared virtual entertainment space where participants can create a unique character, and travel to various environments to play games, socialize, and interact with a wide variety of in-world devices.
Rec Room members use a wrist interface that lets them interact with various devices and Rec Room environments. Players can play frisbee, basketball, paintball, darts, charades, co-op quests, golf, or use a wide variety of creative tools such as a camera, whiteboards, or 3D drawing tools.
Rec Room Social Design
One of the most remarkable aspects of Rec Room is how subtle human gestures, eye movements and other kinds of non-verbal communication are represented. Even though characters are cartoon-like in appearance, they’re able to deliver a wide range of visual expressions and cues.
In this series of screenshots from the Against Gravity blog, a variety of simple eye brow, eye pupil, and mouth movements are delivered by way of normal conversational chat.
Invitation from Rec Room
Rec Room is currently free and available from Steam software for virtual reality devices, including the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Sony PlayStation VR. The social application is open and welcome to everyone, as it states on the Against Gravity blog:
Rec Room is a fun and welcoming environment for people from all walks of life! Come and join the fun for free!
Students enrolled in Bellevue College STEM courses had a chance to witness a panel of virtual reality developers from the Seattle area in early November, 2017. The panel led a discussion on how they got involved with the virtual reality industry, their path through school, and advice to students who are thinking about VR and related disciplines as a potential career path. The panel consisted of a cross-section of early career people who have taken different paths to join the Seattle area virtual reality industry.
The panel was led by Christina Sciabarra and James Riggall representing Bellevue College, and was made up of the following producer-participants:
BC eLearning Makes a Case: Using Virtual Reality Tech for Teaching at Bellevue College
On October 18th, 19th and 20th members of the Bellevue College eLearning Center staff attended the 2017 NWeLearn Conference, which promotes itself as the place “where teaching, learning and technology converge”.
The reason for this trip was to connect with other tech-based educators in the Northwest, discuss online teaching issues and introduce virtual reality displays as an emerging approach for technology-enhanced education. We also laid out our plan for teaching two new courses in virtual reality design and communications at Bellevue College as a way to bring attention to this new medium, for students and faculty alike.
How to Connect Worlds 8000 Miles Apart
Makerspaces are technology equipped informal learning spaces that put mentors and students together to build projects ranging from drones to virtual reality communities. Fulbright scholar James Riggall has spent close to a decade creating makerspaces in Tasmania, notably in the cities of Launceston and Hobart.
During the conference, Riggall outlined his plan for helping Bellevue College create a makerspace learning community at the RISE project-based teaching center and BC library Collaboratory space. A long distance learning lab is planned to make use of virtual reality networking, video conferencing, and other communications tools to connect makerspace teams in Tasmania and Bellevue College.
Opening the Doors of Perception with VR
A primary objective for the Bellevue College eLearning team was to provide hands-on immersive virtual reality experiences to online teaching administrators and instructors – most of whom had never tried it before. For many, it was a transformative experience.
eLearning faculty from all over the Northwest had a chance to try virtual reality for the first time, with comments such as “Amazing”,
“Wow”, “Fantastic”, and “I’ve never seen anything like this!”.
Roll On Columbia
On the road back from Pasco to Seattle, Washington, members of the BC eLearning crew Keith Rowley, James Riggall and Bruce Wolcott stopped for a photo break on the Columbia River. The sudden switch from green Cascade Mountains to the dry arid plains of Eastern Washington was a startling change for Tasmania native James Riggall.
On September 22nd, 2017 staff from Bellevue College’s RISE Institute, Learning Media Center, Faculty Commons, and eLearning Center met in the recently completed RISE labs to welcome Fulbright scholar James Riggall.
James Riggall Brings Makerspace Experience to Bellevue College
Over the past six years, James Riggall has developed a number of community-based makerspaces in Launceston and Hobart Tasmania. The goal of these makerspaces is to provide a place where students of all ages can develop hands-on projects under the mentorship of experienced tutors. These can be considered as informal learning environments that not only teach through hands-on projects but provide a service to the wider community in Tasmania.
These makerspaces are given logistical support from organizations such as BitLink, Innovation Circle, Enterprize, StartUp Tasmania and the TasCatalyst Project. As one of the goals of his Fulbright scholarship, Riggall intends to contribute his entrepreneurial startup and makerspace experience to help kickstart a hands-on, project based educational community at Bellevue College.
Bellevue College Makerspace Movers and Shakers
In 2015 efforts were initiated by Gita Bangera, Interim Vice President of Instruction and Vivienne McClendon, Dean of the Library Media Center to create a Collaboratory space in the Bellevue College library. This “noisy” section of the library is dedicated to live and streaming presentations, courses, team projects, and panel discussions.
Fulbright scholar James Riggall and Bellevue College faculty member Bruce Wolcott began their long distance co-teaching relationship in 2010 while working for the Human Interface Technology Lab (HITLab) at the University of Tasmania. The HITLab as well as the Fundamentals of Interactive Entertainment course was made possible through the efforts of virtual reality pioneer, Dr. Thomas Furness.