Mid-Plains Community College (MPCC) in Nebraska will implement new virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology in its classrooms.
The school purchased eight zSpace units, which consist of eight oversized tablets that are mounted onto carts for portability purposes. The new technology will be used in anatomy and physiology, biological sciences, and chemistry classes. The tablets come with apps for the classes already installed, as well as glasses that allow wearers to view sciences in 3-D.
“From the student perspective, I think we’re going to see this technology spark a lot of interest,” said Paul Knopick, MPCC’s area director of early entry and program development. “From the college perspective, it will give our faculty another creative way to teach and engage students.”
The technology will allow the school to overhaul how classroom learning takes place.
“For example, classes won’t have to have a cadaver because there’s an app for that,” Knopick said. “They won’t need an electric car to learn about one because there’s an app for that, too. In this day and age, technology is king, and this is a great way to create more opportunities for students and take the education we provide them to another level.”
With the zSpace glasses, students can move freely and interact with the objects they are studying. MPCC said that students can either view objects on their own or follow along with what their instructor is seeing. The solution also comes with styluses that allow students to pick up and hold the 3-D objects. Images can also be projected in the classroom via the zView camera.
“It’s similar to a GoPro but can be set up to record what the instructor is doing and cast the activity to other screens for online and distance learning classes,” Knopick said.
MPCC said that its biggest need is for training in the area of health sciences, so that’s where the technology will be deployed first.
“We’re hopeful that we can secure more funds to purchase additional apps and eventually roll the units out to the applied technology programs and other departments as well,” Knopick said.
MPCC used $60,998 in Federal funding to purchase the new equipment. It says that training on the new units will begin in March and it expects the new technology to be fully implemented in classrooms by the fall semester.