What is the virtual lecture hall?
Online courses traditionally consist of watching a video on a screen, and perhaps corresponding with a teacher through video conferencing software. For a one-on-one scenario this works well, but how about cases where there is a large class that needs to interact with itself?
Enter the virtual lecture hall. This is a test case set up in the Unity 3D game engine whereby a student can virtually enter the lecture hall and walk around. In the near future, other students entering the hall at the same time will be able to see each other and interact. That will make interactions between students more natural, but where this technology will really shine is with virtual reality (VR).
With a VR headset like the one by Oculus Rift, now owned by Facebook, the student is actually able to enter the lecture hall completely rather than seeing it on the screen. Turning the head will change the view to compensate, and this lets the student walk around and interact naturally with the setting. When doing this, the proportions of everything in the lecture hall also change automatically, meaning that the screen playing the lecture will now seem huge. In essence, this is the difference between watching a lecture on a 21″ monitor versus watching one on a 20 ft wide screen.
If you do not have an Oculus Rift headset, an avatar will appear for you to control and make it walk around on the screen.
Avatar Controls in the Virtual Lecture Hall
W – walk forward
S – walk backward
A – walk sideways to the left
D – walk sideways to the right
Space Bar – Jump
Space Bar 2x and hold – Fly
Click on a chair to sit on it. Press one of the keys above to move sideways off of it.
Hold down the Right mouse button to look around you without walking.
The first course playing in the virtual lecture hall is a 30-minute basic primer on Bone Healing. This course is beneficial to anyone interested in the process of bone healing and looking for a basis of further study. The course is free and always available 24/7.
Click here to begin the course and enter the virtual lecture hall!
Enter the virtual Lecture hall – Virtual Reality with the Oculus Rift!
Follow these instructions if you have an Oculus Rift headset hooked up already after correctly following manufacturer’s directions.
- Download this virtual lecture hall file.
- Using an unzipping program such as the one included with Windows or WinRar, unzip the file into any directory you choose.
- Double click on the file named “LectureHall_DirectToRift.exe”.
- Put on your Oculus Rift headset and follow any instructions you see on the screen.
- Roll the mouse wheel forward until you are completely zoomed in.
Controlling your avatar in virtual reality uses the same control keys detailed above. The only difference is you can now also turn your head to look around. Another advantage of using the Oculus Rift, currently, is that the networking code is established and if another student logs in, you will be able to see one another in the virtual lecture hall.