Jeremy Nelson, Director of XR Initiative 

Jan Stewart
Jan Stewart

In this week’s MiXR Studios podcast, we talk with Jan Stewart, the lead academic technology strategist for the University of Michigan’s LSA Technology Services. Jan shares his experience and input in creating the first VR classroom for Humanities at the university. He was instrumental in helping shape the design and delivery of the VR courses created by U-M professors Sara Blair and Lisa Nakamura. Technology isn’t the only consideration in a VR classroom, and Jan talks about how to deliver the safest and most effective experience for students.

As the manager of emerging technologies for LSA, Jan was involved in all technology discussions related to the use of virtual reality in courses. Jan discusses how he started working in this space by volunteering to build a VR classroom for a new Digital Studies minicourse that Lisa Nakamura was planning to teach. The approach Jan and his team (BlueCorps) take is one that really tries to fully understand the teaching and learning objectives before designing technology solutions. Space is at a premium on central campus, and Jan was able to repurpose an existing computing lab into one that could support VR. They were able to swap out six PCs with HP backpack computers that support VR as well as traditional computing needs for the lab.

 

students fill computer lab in classroom with virtual reality workstations
VR classroom at the Modern Language Building on central campus.

Jan worked closely with Carla Stellrecht, a learning technology consultant, to think critically about how to support students as they are experiencing VR. The two had many discussions about how best to help students experiencing VR for the first time, and how to help them through the VR titles when they weren’t able to see what students were experiencing. Because of the limited number of Oculus Rift workstations in the classroom, they worked with Lisa to design the course for students to pair up. In many ways, the students were more engaged in these VR classes because they had to communicate what they were seeing or what the other students may be encountering in VR. This also led to very important discussions that students would need to have with each other about consent around where they were comfortable being touched in the event they were about to injury themselves outside of VR.

Henry – VR Film that takes you in the home of a lonesome hedgehog on his birthday

The BlueCorps team was intimately involved in reviewing all of the XR titles taught in the humanities courses by Blair, Nakamura, and Arthur Verhoogt. To truly be able to support the students and faculty, the support team needed to be well-versed in the hardware and the software. There were different technical challenges faced when using desktop VR like the Oculus Rift versus the wireless Oculus Go. The Rift would occasionally have driver and software updates that could cause issues that needed to be resolved by an administrator, but the Rift offered better ability for students and staff to see what the person in VR was seeing. The Oculus Go had some technical issues of its own in terms of loading all of the titles on the headsets and keeping them in sync. Additionally, the Oculus Go presented other challenges in terms of seeing what the person in VR was seeing, as you would have to cast the headset to a mobile device, and that wasn’t possible with University managed devices.

virtual reality creation work station
VR workstation at BlueCorps that can be reserved by appointment

Jan has created a more support-focused offering for faculty and students in LSA courses to engage with VR. These devices and spaces have been set up for students to consume but not create content. For students and faculty that want to create content, there are great facilities at the Visualization Studio in the Duderstadt Center. Prior to COVID-19, students were able to reserve access to VR equipment at the Modern Languages Building by appointment. For any faculty that are looking to use VR in their courses, I highly recommend setting up a consultation with Jan and his team, and be prepared to improvise like a jazz musician.

We conclude our conversation by discussing what the future looks like in a COVID and post COVID world where the access to VR equipment will be even more challenging. In more remote teaching environments, the access to checkout equipment will become more imperative. In relation to that, it will be important to think through how best to support students that have never used this technology before and how can a support model be put in place to ensure they can effectively access titles and learning environments. Jan and his team are ready to tackle the next set of challenges presented with these emerging XR technologies and I look forward to working with him.

I had a great time talking with Jan and learning more about how he and his team have helped make XR possible for faculty in LSA. Please share with us what you would like to learn more about in the XR space at jernel@umich.edu.

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Transcript: MiXR Studios, Episode 25

Jeremy Nelson (00:09):
Hello, I’m Jeremy Nelson. And today we are talking with Jan Stewart, who is the lead academic technology strategist at the university of Michigan’s LSA technology services. We’re talking about his work and creating an XR lab on central campus, supporting the early VR work of U of M’s humanities programs coming up next in our mixer podcast. Welcome Jan. Thank you for joining us today.

Jan Stewart (00:49):
Well, thanks for having me, Jeremy.

Jeremy Nelson (00:51):
Yeah. We’re excited to have you on our MiXR podcast and share your perspective and all the integral work that you’ve been doing. Um, maybe we start with just, how did you get into supporting XR, you know, what what areas you’re responsible for and just take us through that journey would be,

Jan Stewart (01:09):
Well, I was, uh, in a meeting with some of my colleagues, um, talking about supporting digital scholarship. And one of them mentioned that, uh, Lisa Nakamura of, um, American cultures, um, was going to be giving, uh, a class, um, on VR. And so I thought, well, that, that sounds interesting. And what’s the timeline for this? And this was, this was, uh, I think in about October of, um, the fall semester. And, um, and he said, well, she’s, she’s going to be teaching winter semester. And the format for the class is going to be, you know, one half in her regular classroom, and then the other half in the VR classroom. And I said, wait, what VR classroom? And as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized, Oh, the, the VR classroom that I’m about to start building. And, and so, um, I work with, um, across technology services with a number of different areas.

Jan Stewart (02:15):
Um, and in this case, it involved A/V engineering, it involved the, the, um, loan center and facilities people, um, and the instructional technology people, um, the learning technology consultants, um, we’re all involved in, in this, um, as well as the instructional computing people to help out with the computing aspects of it, um, to put together what we felt was a reasonable space and, um, and a reasonable number of stations and so on to be able to, uh, host this class. And Lisa was actually great to work with because, um, you know, while anybody would have been very happy to have, you know, a fully, uh, uh, furnished, dedicated XR classroom, um, she understood of course, that we didn’t have that, that we were starting from essentially nothing. And so she was very flexible in, in adapting her course to what we were able to provide at the time.

Jan Stewart (03:24):
And, and so what that was, was, um, you know, a PC computing classroom that, uh, has traditional rows. Um, we replaced six of the PCs with, uh, Omen, uh, what I call jet pack computers they’re, um, essentially laptops without keyboards or screens, um, that are made so that you can wear them in an actual backpack and run around doing VR, um, watch out for the obstacles. Uh, but we were just using those in a doc station at, at, uh, in place of, of the ordinary PCs. And they could work a double duty, um, as a regular PC for classes, regular classes, but then also as VR stations for the VR classes. Um, so that was, that was kind of the, the beginning was, was how do we get the hardware in place? Uh, one of the, uh, instructional technology consultants, um, and I then started meeting with, uh, with Lisa and looking at what sorts of assignments she was interested in having the students work on what, what the titles were that she was interested in having them view, um, you know, some, some aspects of the course evaluation and so on.

Jan Stewart (04:50):
And these things, you know, you might, you might think to yourself, well, why does the guy who’s setting up computers in the classroom care about this stuff? And part of the reason is because we’re looking at more than just clapping hardware into a facility and saying, okay, go, we we’re looking at how do you, how do you make sure that the instruction is taking place effectively? And that the students are getting the sort of learning experience that they, um, that they are expecting to out of this and that the instructor is freed up to teach effectively, and doesn’t have to worry about technology issues, um, and having access to the right equipment and being able to, uh, complete assignments and so on is, is an important part of that. Um, being able to handle logistically, how do you have a class of, of, I think Lisa had 18 students in her class, how do you have that class come in and effectively use six VR stations?

Jan Stewart (05:56):
Um, how, how do we, as a, um, as the staff hosting, um, in that facility, how do we help the students with what may be their first experience with XR, uh, uh, you know, VR headsets, um, how do we help orient them to how to use the things in, in general, and also substantially, how do we help them, uh, with the limited time they have during a class period navigate to where they need to in a particular title. So imagine if you will there, um, we, we did this actually for, uh, Sara Blair’s class. Um, there was kind of a, um, you have been captured and, and you’re being held in this room and, and, or, or, or, or the, the heroine is, and your job is, you know, you, you have access to the cameras, you’re a hacker and you can help her escape, but, you know, um, so you basically, you control doors and, and so on and help this, this heroine tried to escape, um, her facility.

Jan Stewart (07:09):
Um, you’re not gonna complete a game like that in an hour. So if you want, if you, if you want the heroine to at least get out of the first door, that means somebody has to be helping you. If it’s your first exposure to the game, giving you hints here and there and saying, well, make sure to look for this. And, you know, you might try looking for the map on the wall. Well, what map, what wall? Well, so somebody needs to be able to assist now six or eight or 10 people wearing headsets, navigate that title, but from outside of the headset. So it’s, it, it becomes logistically kind of a tricky thing to help students, um, have that, uh, that, uh, substantive experience in, in the VR title.

Jeremy Nelson (07:59):
Now, were you thinking from a perspective of like an onboarding or just their first time in, like they go, I know some of these have like the first steps or the first contact as part of Oculus to just get you acquainted with the environment and controls. Was it, were you thinking from that perspective or from one of the titles that the faculty had selected, like how do we support that title, that type of experience,

Jan Stewart (08:20):
Actually, actually both of those. So, so, um, and, and I’ll add a third one in as well, which is, um, just kind of the instructional environment or, or the, the peripheral environment to, um, using VR equipment. So this is something that came up pretty early on. Uh, Lisa had a wonderful, uh, introduction to her course, which is, as the students were walking in, she was playing a YouTube of VR fails, um, where people are falling over, couches are punching their fists through walls or, or their, their, you know, their family. Um, and, and the one that struck me was, uh, a group of people, a young woman wearing a head mounted display, and she kept wanting to kind of fall down on her butt. And, and, and her friends kept kind of picking her up and she’d kept, kept trying to kind of fall down. And she was wearing a mini skirt and the person filming this was just kind of filming without regard for her dignity. And I remember thinking, wow, that’s really not good. And, and, you know, who’s, who’s going to be looking out for the students here. And, and Lisa brought up a wonderful story of preparing for her class with an Oculus Go in the sadly now, defunct, Espresso, Royale, um, and state defunct Oculus go.

Jan Stewart (10:01):
They’re not going to support that. So, uh, but, but she was sitting in the coffee shop and she had her headset on and was often running. And then all of a sudden she thought to herself, where’s my purse because out of sight, out of mind, right. And for all she knows, somebody could have walked right up and taken it. And she took her headset off and it was right there. And she felt relief at that. But you know, all of these questions in, in discussions with Lisa, all of these questions came up about how do you look after the well-being of the students and, and we should have, in addition to just their immediate physical well-being. And so we, we, um, agreed that having, uh, the students each have partners in the class that would look after, and this also complimented the, the limited number of headsets that we had, um, th that they would share the experience kind of, um, by looking out for one another.

Jan Stewart (10:55):
And, and then we also went to the point of, you know, let’s, let’s have the students have a conversation, an explicit conversation with each other about, um, look, if I start to follow for, this is an okay way for you to help me, but, you know, and Lisa said, well, like, should they say, like, don’t, you know, touch my shoulders is okay, but don’t touch my butt. And I said, yeah, I agree. I think that’s exactly what we want to say to them, or have them say to each other, because I think a lot of times people say, you know, things like, well, just don’t do anything weird. Well, that’s, that’s completely our arbitrary and subjective. And so, so yes, this is a good, it’s not just good practice for this class. It’s good practice for having those conversations in the rest of your life as well,

Jeremy Nelson (11:44):
Sure, consent and what’s acceptable.

Jan Stewart (11:47):
Exactly, exactly. So, so that was kind of the starting point. And then from there, it was yes, the introduction that the actual technology and, uh, and so you want to make sure that the students understand what they’re supposed to be getting out of it, and they don’t feel anxious about things that they don’t have to get out of it. Um, so having, having people in the room that have already gone through the title are already familiar with it, how to navigate it, what to, and can remember that all to, to have that conversation with the student in the headset is an important thing.

Jeremy Nelson (12:20):
Right. Right. And so for each of these courses, I mean, it sounds like you were there for each of the lab sessions and anyone else, like what sort of support team did it look like in the early days?

Jan Stewart (12:32):
So we had, um, we had some of our BlueCorps staff, and these are, these are student technology assistants that work, uh, to help students with technology oriented assignments and, and adapting to technology in general and learning new technologies. Um, and then we also had some of our learning technology consultants, um, and amongst those Carla Stellrecht was, was, uh, who is recently retired, was one of our lead, uh, learning technology consultants on, on this. She, you know, she, she was one of the people that helped, uh, Lisa worked through some of the assignments and, and, um, adjusting goals and so on. And, um, so, uh, but I think all all told we had, and then we had, we typically had some, uh, instructional computing people in the room as well, because, uh, when we were using some of the, uh, Oculus Rift titles, sometimes there would be computing issues and they can help out with those.

Jan Stewart (13:42):
Um, so basically we tried to throw enough people at the, the situation so that we could recover from any glitches that we would encounter, but sure, as, as the semester went on, or I should say, as the course went on, it was mini course, as the course went on, then the instructional computing people didn’t need to be present as frequently. And, um, and the students started helping each other more as partners. So this this is maybe a good point for me to, uh, throw in a slight tangent, which was one of the most fascinating things about the course for me, which is that, um, in having this partner set up, um, it was my observation and Carla, the learning technology consultants, observation that the students actually ended up, uh, interacting with each other. We felt more than in a typical classroom class because it, and you’d think, well, no, that can’t be because they put on the head-mounted display and all of a sudden they’re off in their own little world. Right. And no, and actually not, they, um, they would be talking out to their partner and, you know, the, Oh, what am I to, Oh yeah, you have to wait and see this. And Oh, wait, what am I supposed to do here? Oh, this is weird. And they would have this conversation going while they were working through this. And then when they’d switch headsets and the first person who had already experienced the title could, could help the second person navigate. Um, so that was actually a really neat aspect of the course I found,

Jeremy Nelson (15:13):
Well, these were Oculus Rifts, correct?

Jan Stewart (15:15):
Well, this was either the Rift or the Go.

Jeremy Nelson (15:18):
Okay. So with the Rift, the, the helper or the other student could see what the person and the display could see what the Go, they couldn’t, or were you doing any sort of casting?

Jan Stewart (15:30):
No. So we were not, um, we hadn’t been doing any casting, um, at this point because, uh, at least the last time I looked at the Go software, you had to cast out to something like a phone. And if you wanted to then project it, you then had to project the phone. Um, and since we’re managing all of these devices centrally, then that means there’s basically just one device that you can cast to. Right. Um, and I think logistically that would have made things more complicated because again, every time I’ve tested it, it’s been a little bit flaky. So it was, it was not uncommon for it to drop the connection, but yeah, so that means when they’re using the Rift, somebody could help them navigate much more easily. But when they’re using the Go, you had to remember, you know, what the, what the title looked like and how to navigate it and so on. So it was, that was actually kind of a tricky aspect of, of the support people really needed to be pretty familiar with the titles.

Jeremy Nelson (16:29):
Right. Well, how did you make the decision for a Rift or the Go, like what went into that was that part of Lisa’s decision for the types of titles? Was it just from a technical, like versus a Vive or having like room-scale like, right. Things like that,

Jan Stewart (16:46):
That’s, that’s a, um, that’s a great question. I think the, you know, part of Lisa’s course was I think the, the, the main point of Lisa’s course was to explore whether, uh, VR technologies can, uh, improve, uh, our empathy for other people. Um, but a significant part of our course was exploring, um, how that was effected by various forms of VR technology. So part of the course was compare VR technology is part of the course was compare different VR titles and how they go about trying to elicit, um, empathetic responses. Um, and so, so the comparison of the technologies was, was, uh, uh, pointed part of the course. Um, it turns out that, um, another aspect was of the selection was, well, geez, what’s available? That, that is a compelling title that is not going to be, you know, that’s going to fit a number of criteria.

Jan Stewart (17:58):
Is it going to be comfortable enough for the students to watch, but is it also going to be, uh, you know, substantial and meaningful enough for the students to watch? I mean, we’re not, we shouldn’t all be about watching cartoons. How does that help us to empathize with people? And not that cartoons were not included, uh, a cartoon, I should say, um, Henry the hedgehog. Sure. Um, but, but I think the idea was to get into the real human condition. Right. And so, so there are a range of titles on either platform. Um, and so we looked at a few titles on both platforms, but, but mostly it was, uh, you know, titles that were either on one or the other platform.

Jeremy Nelson (18:44):
Well, so, you know, it was, I think it sounds like Lisa’s course was the first of its kind here at Michigan, right. At least where you’re using the classroom teaching with XR about XR. And, and so then where did it go from there? I think there were a couple other courses that transpired over the next couple of semesters that correct?

Jan Stewart (19:02):
Yes. So Arthur Verhoogt, um, was, was, um, teaching a class, uh, in the classics and he wanted his students to compare, um, learning, using VR technology with learning, uh, using more traditional methods. And so he took, uh, an approach where first of all, it was difficult to come up with, um, titles that did what he wanted. So one of the things he wanted to do was have students look at the Pantheon, uh, in VR and, uh, or the Roman Colosseum. Um, and, uh, so there just, aren’t a lot of titles out there that do that. I think there may be some more now. Um, but at the time, but at the time I think the, one of the ones we used was, I dunno, I want to say, it’s gotta be pushing 25, maybe 30 years. It was, it was wow. Uh, you know, pre VR headset VR.

Jan Stewart (20:10):
So it was a space that you could navigate through that had been,

Jeremy Nelson (20:14):
So, it was on a desktop. It wasn’t an HMD then?

Jan Stewart (20:17):
but it had been ported forward and, and, you know, um, adapted to the VR environment. So it was, I don’t know that I, I don’t know that I felt it was substantially more immersive than, than watching it on a computer. That’s how kind of aged the environment was. Um, and so at any rate, um, with the Colosseum, uh, you were able to, with one of the titles, you were able to stand in the middle of it and, and look around and get a sense of the space, at least. And then at the same time he had other students looking at, um, uh, of elevations of, of the Colosseum. And so you could see what it was supposed to look like from the drawings or the renderings, um, you know, from, from the top view and from the side view and so on.

Jan Stewart (21:19):
And whereas in the VR headset, you were, you were, you know, more experiencing what it would feel like to be in that place. Um, gotcha. And so he would have the students, um, split into two and one, you know, one group would do the VR experience, one group do the paper experience and they would evaluate it and then they would switch. And so that the other, the, the, the paper set of students got a chance to experience the VR title as well. And then the next class period, then the, a they would switch who got to do VR first. Um, but I think that was, that was a really interesting way to evaluate the VR tool. And that’s something that is a, my, my title at the time was manager of emerging technologies. And, and I, I always kind of chuckle when I think of that, because I think, well, I’m, I’m a bit ambivalent about some of these technologies.

Jan Stewart (22:21):
I sure. You know, there’s, there’s the novelty of them. And one of my colleagues taught me not to, you know, poo poo the novelty aspect of it, because you can hook students with that. That’s the reason a lot of Japanese students study Japanese is because they were, you know, they were hooked on Anime first. Um, and don’t, don’t throw that away if that’s what gets them interested in learning languages that why is that a bad thing? Sure. And similarly, I think VR can, can, uh, have that sort of initial appeal that said I’m still very interested in knowing whether or not it has, you know, a substantive benefit after the novelty has worn off. And I think that’s what Arthur was really trying to get at here is, you know, is, yeah, it’s fun, but does it teach you something or does it help you learn in a way or learn things that you couldn’t learn with paper? And so I think that’s a really important question to continue asking.

Jeremy Nelson (23:22):
Yeah. I mean, that’s what we’re very interested in with, with the projects that we’re funding and working on and the XR initiative of just like, what, how is it helping students learn better? Where, what are those best practices or what are the interactions that we can design or develop that will lead to that? And so we can have a catalog or a decision tree as we go forward.

Jan Stewart (23:43):
Right. And of course, certain, uh, certainly a part of that process is going to be that you find that, you know, look this, this particular approach or this particular title didn’t do that for us. It didn’t provide the staying power that we were after. It, it had novelty, but no, you know, long, long lasting substance to it. And that’s okay. You know, it’s gotta be a process where you evaluate, um, titles and expect to throw some away and expect to keep some, and then you move in that direction. Not, not the first direction.

Jeremy Nelson (24:17):
Right. Right. Well, so that sounds like that was Lisa then Arthur. And then you went into Sara’s course next to you. What happened between Arthur’s and Sara’s and then kind of going forward, what would you want to see us do? Or how can we lead in this, space?

Jan Stewart (24:31):
So I think, um, between the courses, um, of course, you know, Carla and I spent a fair amount of time, Carla, the, uh, learning technology consultant, and I spent a fair amount of time kind of hashing through what the implications were. And, and then with our, um, equipment and facilities, people look at how are we gonna, how are we going to loan these things out safely? How do we staff these areas, um, with the, uh, with the Rifts, um, we would allow people to use them, uh, with an appointment. They had to set up an appointment so that we could have essentially a partner there to look after, you know, if they, if they had their computer bag with them there, and they’re putting on a headset, somebody ought to be looking after that and, and also looking out for their physical safety.

Jan Stewart (25:26):
And, um, so we would have that by appointment only. Um, that’s, that’s not ideal. Um, but we felt that with, with our facilities and thinking about the, the safety of the students, that that’s something we needed to do. Um, the, so, so, so as I said, Carla, and I spent a lot of time thinking about, you know, how do we, how do we help other people adapt their classes to this? And, and what are the implications if they’re doing, you know, just, Hey, we’re going to do a couple of things in VR versus we want the whole class to be oriented towards VR. Um, uh, how do, how do, uh, activities need to change? How do we work with instructors, um, to, um, to be able to be flexible with their syllabus, um, in, in adding this technology and this, this sort of experience for their students.

Jan Stewart (26:35):
And that’s when, um, Sara’s class came along and Sara, I think is a very meticulous planner and, and had a very ambitious set of goals for the VR. And, and if I’m to confess, it made me a bit nervous because I don’t want, I don’t want, you know, an instructor’s expectations to vary wildly from, from the experience that they end up having. So, um, so we met a number of times and talked about, um, how, how the class, um, could be pulled off and, and what titles were decent titles and not, and so on. And, um, you know, Sara looked had looked into a lot of things and with a much more detailed view than I had, which, which was helpful for me. Um, yeah. And, and I think one of the things that I, I brought to the equation for her was to keep reminding her, I, you know, I don’t think you can have it planned this down to the minute.

Jan Stewart (27:53):
I think you need to leave this more flexible. And, and the, the terminology that I ended up, uh, kind of adapting for, for describing this, you know, and it’s something that Lisa was, was, I think that’s much more how she teaches anyway, is that, um, and being a jazz fan, uh, is improvisation. So, so with jazz, you have to be an accomplished musician, uh, to improvise. It’s, it’s not that you’re just making up any random thing that comes out of the instrument. You actually have to be, um, accomplished. And you’re listening to the context of the music around you, and you’re reacting to that and responding to it, um, and making your own statements. And, and that’s born out of skill and knowledge that you already have. You’re just bringing it to bear on the immediate situation. And I think a good teacher is able to also do that.

Jan Stewart (28:51):
Um, and, and it’s especially called for in, uh, in XR classes. And I will say now that they also in, in the era of COVID-19 right, you know, things change from moment to moment. And if you are more able to adapt to that and bring the skills and knowledge that you already have to the immediate situation, the immediate, that immediate, um, elements that are, that are arising in your class, you’ll be much more successful. So, um, so Sara assured me that, that, uh, that she was more flexible than I was, I was maybe nervous about. And, and she was wonderful in that way. Uh, you know, like Lisa things did not end up going exactly as we had planned. And she really, as I said, likely, so I really rolled with the punches then, and I think that made the most out of the class that could, could have been made. Yeah.

Jeremy Nelson (29:57):
Yeah. I agree. Well, what, what concerns do you have about the future of this technology and supporting it and maybe what do you want to see us do, uh, as a university?

Jan Stewart (30:08):
It’s, uh, it’s funny because I’m just coming out of, uh, a, uh, a meeting from the previous hour with a new faculty member, um, who is part of a film, TV and media, as well as the digital, um, studies Institute, uh, Yvette Granata, um, and about the VR class that she’s planning on teaching, um, this fall and one of the questions there was, okay, golly. Now, now what do we do in the brave new world of COVID-19 and how do you do VR with, with students that, or a group of people that don’t all have, you know, full on VR headsets and set ups at home, um, or in their dorm rooms or wherever. Um, so I think there are a lot of, a lot of questions for, for right now, or if it’s right now with an asterisk by it, meaning, well, if, if we get COVID-19 circumstances, um, minimized, um, and, you know, I think, uh, in general that the asterisk version with, without taking COVID-19 too much into account at this point, um, I think, uh, again, uh, my work with Carla Stellrecht, um, also, uh, extended into team-based learning classrooms and, and the substantial shift that instructors needed to, uh, bring to their courses to adapt them to that environment.

Jan Stewart (32:00):
We saw all sorts of parallels between that sort of adaptation and adapting to using XR, uh, in, in the classroom experience. Um, so I think that’s, that’s one of the important things that, that we need to think about, uh, facilities, I think, are something that we need to think about. Um, you know, obviously the ideal sort of environment for, uh, a VR classroom or an XR classroom would be something like they have at the Duderstadt center. Um, I think one of the things that has been really beneficial about LSA’s approach to this has been having a substantial support staff on hand to help facilitate the classes. Now we’re going about things quite differently. I think than, than a number of classes that meet in the Duderstadt center that where I think my, my impression is that that has more to do with authoring, um, uh, or, or individual activities where I think, whereas I think, you know, we’re talking about holding regular class sessions that, that, uh, utilize, uh, XR experiences. And for that, then, you know, we have a much more compressed schedule for getting students through titles as we were discussing earlier. And it involves, you know, how can we get students up to speed with the equipment and the environment as quickly as possible, and then how can we get them to navigate through a number of different titles as, as effectively as possible? Um, and so that’s, that’s I think, uh, a significant, uh, area that, that we still need to, um, invest in, in, in the going forward as a university.

Jeremy Nelson (33:53):
Yeah, no, I’m, I’m excited to help think through that and participate in any way that we can. And I just really appreciate your time today, all the work you’ve done to the lay, the foundation for us to be able to take it, you know, broadly across the university and, and really kind of build on the work that’s done and scale things up and out. Thank you so much, Jan. I really appreciate it.

Jan Stewart (34:15):
Yeah. I’m glad to be participating in this. And, and I have to say that, you know, it’s, for me, one of the really rewarding things has been the opportunity to work with, you know, Lisa and Arthur and Sara, uh, in, because they’re very, very talented teachers. I, I love great teaching and, and it’s fun to be in that environment. It’s also really fun to be in that environment when you’re throwing in the sorts of, uh, new variables and technologies that, that, uh, that they’ve done, you know, for the past few semesters. So, um, I think it’s an exciting, it’s an exciting technology and, and, uh, please count on me to be, you know, looking for that, that most, uh, practical benefit aspect of it, and also the, how we, how we make it practical, um, and, and most usable in classroom environment.

Jeremy Nelson (35:14):
That’s perfect. Wow. I appreciate the time today. Thank you so much.

Jan Stewart (35:19):
Yes. Thank you. Thank you,

Jeremy Nelson (35:33):
You for joining us today, our vision for the XR initiative is to enable education at scale that is hyper contextualized using XR tools and experiences. Please subscribe to our podcast and check out more about our work at ai.umich.edu/XR.