Rowan University Brings VR and Cinematic Storytelling to Higher Education
Rowan University

Rowan University is partnering with Dreamscape Learn and Arizona State University to introduce a novel approach to learning using virtual reality (VR) experiences, blending education through exploration and cinematic storytelling techniques. Rowan is the first group of universities in the United States to license the technology and curriculum developed by Dreamscape Learn in collaboration with ASU. The concept was created by film producer Walter Parkes and ASU president Michael Crow.

The Dreamscape Learn VR-enabled courseware and instructor platform will allow Rowan faculty to send students on “academic missions” in immersive classrooms. In these virtual environments, students collaborate with peers to develop quantitative skills required to solve scientific problems.

The approach has already proven successful at ASU, where over 12,000 students completed introductory biology courses using VR-based curriculum. According to an ASU study, students using VR were nearly twice as likely to earn an “A” lab grade compared to those in traditional “wet labs.” This positive outcome was consistent across different demographics, except for honors students.

The new approach aims to engage students and improve learning outcomes through immersive storytelling and innovative technology. An immersive learning center will be built at Rowan University as part of the initiative, featuring VR-equipped pods designed to accommodate 30 students and two instructors each.

The technology offers users motion-capture cameras, virtual reality headsets, and haptic technology to create a more immersive and interactive learning experience. Rowan University’s president, Ali A. Houshmand, believes that this partnership will help make Rowan a leader in reimagining higher education through innovative technologies like VR.

As part of the collaboration, Rowan expects to develop interdisciplinary immersive courses across its various colleges and schools and may license its original immersive courseware to other institutions using the Dreamscape Learn platform. The immersive learning center is scheduled to be part of the Campbell Library renovation project, beginning in the summer of 2024, and will be operational by January 2024 for faculty development and training.

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