962 Views
  1. Jonathan Beck
  2. Principal Investigator/Director
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. National Center for Autonomous Technologies
  1. Anton Bergee
  2. Assistant Director
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. National Center for Autonomous Technologies
  1. Mark Gill
  2. https://www.facebook.com/Karnivore
  3. NCAT Senior Personnel, SCSU Visualization Engineer
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. National Center for Autonomous Technologies, St. Cloud State University VizLab
  1. Jill Zande
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jill-zande-271b887/
  3. NCAT Co-PI, MATE II Executive Director
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. National Center for Autonomous Technologies, MATE Inspiration for Innovation

National Center for Autonomous Technologies

NSF Awards: 1902574

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12, Undergraduate, Adult learners

Cancelled due to COVID-19 – those words were ubiquitous across websites and communication channels for any event, big or small in 2020. The world quickly turned to virtual platforms, such as Zoom to interact for education, work, and even visiting with family and friends as a means of communication during times of quarantine and distance-learning. The National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) quickly realized the significant impact that COVID-19 and a global pandemic was going to have on the learning environments and made a shift towards utilizing Virtual Reality for social engagement.

The emergence and inescapability of Social VR is changing STEM education, STEM fields, and the STEM related technical workforce. Not only has the virtual and augmented reality reduced the amount of time and money it takes to attend certain events, giving broader access for participants, it has become a source for exciting supplemental activities, providing students and faculty with the necessary core experiences needed in a learning environment. The integration for VR, simulations, advanced video capture and other digital technologies are enabling new learning environments, increasing our knowledge, understanding and retention.

The NCAT Community provides tremendous support beyond the classroom, through educator workshops, STEM camps, and competitions that engage families and the general public in an awareness of autonomous technologies education, exciting careers, and the future workforce. Through the virtual worlds created by NCAT, we are able to facilitate the social interaction, peer-to-peer networking, and shared experience that students and faculty value and appreciate most.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (19 posts)
  • Icon for: Karl Kosko

    Karl Kosko

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2021 | 05:29 p.m.

    Really nice!

    What was the proportion of students using headsets vs flatscreen? I'm curious if you noticed differences in how they engaged?

  • Icon for: Mark Gill

    Mark Gill

    Co-Presenter
    NCAT Senior Personnel, SCSU Visualization Engineer
    May 12, 2021 | 11:11 a.m.

    The headsets and flat screens are used in conjunction with each other.   The software we're working with was developed in the lab by students working on a capstone project for their Software Engineering degree.   Several people in headsets can be networked into a single collaborative experience.   The large screens allow us to stream a view from the point of view of any of the headsets out to a larger audience.  

  • Icon for: Jonathan Beck

    Jonathan Beck

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator/Director
    May 11, 2021 | 05:46 p.m.

    NCAT has taken a deep dive into the depths of Virtual Reality to sustain social interaction, STEM engagement and increase access to activities including educator workshops and student competitions during a global pandemic.  In October 2020, we piloted the first NCAT Social VR Experience, "Autonomous Vehicle Technology Sensors" Educator Workshop.  Now, NCAT is helping to power the international 2021 MATE Remotely Operated Vehicle Virtual Season, in which 7000+ students from all over the US and more then 30 countries will participate. The team’s planning and creativity to strategically use virtual collaborative environments for the 2021 MATE ROV Competition will allow MATE to facilitate social interaction, peer-to-peer networking, and shared experience that students value and appreciate most about the competition – and are especially craving during the time of this pandemic. It includes not only in-person and telepresence events, but also a virtual world that enables students and mentors from around the globe to experience the competition even if they can’t participate in person.

    Find more information about:

    The 2021 MATE ROV Virtual World: http://ncatech.org/mate-virtual/

    The MATE ROV Competition: https://materovcompetition.org/

     And how to Join Our Virtual World through onboarding instructions at: https://ncatech.org/virtual-space-onboarding/

  • Icon for: Elizabeth Hoadley

    Elizabeth Hoadley

    Informal Educator
    May 12, 2021 | 08:47 a.m.

    Well done! This definitely makes me want to get a pair of VR goggles and *transport* myself into a new world. I am really excited to see this year's MATE ROV competition and how this is implemented.

    I was really struck by the teacher discussing how VR can better connect students attending in person school with those working from home. I have often wondered how the social nature of school was impacted this year with so many schools adopting this type of hybrid model. Have you done any evaluations to support this impact with more data?

    Have you found access to VR goggles or other materials to be limiting? Especially in a school setting? Or have you had any issues with access to strong enough internet bandwidth to be an issue for using the software more widely? I live in a rural area, and know bandwidth was a major challenge to our local schools as they all transitioned to 100% online in the spring of 2020. 

  • Icon for: Jonathan Beck

    Jonathan Beck

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator/Director
    May 13, 2021 | 08:56 a.m.

    On the NCAT website you can find a white paper developed by the NCAT team, following our first social VR pilot project experience for an Educator Workshop we hosted last October.

    https://ncatech.org/reports-summaries/ - Reports and Journals - White Paper - Social VR Professional Development Workshops

    The white paper guides the reader through the process of developing and implementing effective and engaging social VR events that support learning, participation, and fill the void of inter-personal connections that have long been the downside of distance learning in any form.  The white paper explores the “why” and the “how to” use virtual reality in a hybrid approach even when there are no pandemics bridging the gap between current and cutting-edge teaching/learning tools. 

    There are many different types of VR experiences.  The experiences discussed in the white paper specifically focus on our experiences using VR for Social Engagement which is also captured in our STEM for All Video.  We did find barriers to access, equipment, and the types of challenges you pose.  We formed a VR accessibility workgroup to identify some of these challenges and ways to address many of the issues.  When we’ve hosted sessions, we’ve linked the fully immersive environments into standards conference platforms that allow for multiple ways of accessing to allow users who may have disabilities to still have a similar experience.  These may include visual impairments, vestibular disorder, or other disabilities.  It also alleviates some of the potential challenges with bandwidth. However, if people are able to connect using standard conference tools, it seems like they’ve been able to also connect to the live VR environments.

  • May 12, 2021 | 03:24 p.m.

    This is such an interesting project and a great use of technology to bridge the learning gap especially during COVID. I'm wondering if you can talk about some of the learning outcomes you've been measuring particularly with remote learnings! Thanks!

  • Icon for: Jonathan Beck

    Jonathan Beck

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator/Director
    May 13, 2021 | 09:16 a.m.

    If you check out the white paper I listed when responding to Elizabeth it has some good information discussing the experiences of participants in our events.  Our pilot experiences this year have been focused on maintaining the types of interaction and social engagement that are lost on standard conferencing platforms.  The audio is spatially engineered in the environments which allow participants to walk around the environment, from one group to the next, and spontaneously interact as you would in and out of sessions and down the hallway at an in-person conference.  One of my favorite experiences was the debrief after our October workshop in which even our facilitators and event leadership discussed the apprehension and uncertainty of how it would really work out and what the feel of the experience would be.  By all accounts; surveys and interviews of the team and participants it was a great experience. Here is some feedback from participants captured in the white paper:

    “Free rein to access site ahead of event for exploration, familiarity, practice, comfort.”

    “Getting people into the site early prevented problems and decreased anxiety.”

    “You are more tuned in and engaged because of VR.”

    “You can tell when someone takes off their goggles, so you know if they are still participating.”

    “The social experience was enjoyable, especially since we are so limited with social experiences right now. Would love to have another VR workshop!”

    “Social/virtual experience showing emotions. People were good about asking questions. Fun to send messages to each other. Do things like gather in the lobby throwing snowballs.”

    “Leaving the VR environment, I walked out the door like I would at a real conference. As opposed to just taking off the headset and having my avatar bow her head!”

    “The interaction with others in the virtual conference was positive. Felt like I was more in a conference environment than just doing a screen sharing presentation/Zoom meeting.”

    “Having a sidebar conversation with people one on one to answer questions. Some folks do not like to ask questions in front of the whole group. This environment allowed follow up conversations with individuals -- a great feature.”

    “Going to workshop or conference, an important part of it is networking. Technical/professional discussions and things of that nature that occur inside the room or in the hallways outside the room (of the presentation). Can that magic still occur in virtual world? It did occur!”

    “Skeptic turned cheerleader for VR.”

    “We are all Zoomed out, so it was refreshing to have something different.”

     

    Our plan for this year is to continue advancing our capabilities and participant experiences in these types of environments with a greater focus on technical-orientated activities, assessments and evaluations.  We’ve come a long way in a short period of time this year, as highlighted by supporting things such as the international MATE Virtual Season Developments.  We are looking forward to taking it to the next level this coming year.  I hope you check out the resources on our website and plug into some of the experiences.

  • Icon for: Gerhard Salinger

    Gerhard Salinger

    Facilitator
    Former Program Officer (NSF)
    May 12, 2021 | 09:38 p.m.

    This is using technology to bring people together.  I would like to know more how this is done with VR.  What equipment is required?  How easy is it to set  up and use?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of VR over technologies like Zoom?  How will ROV competitions improve with the use of VR? What is your plan to evaluate how VR increases student learning or other desirable outcomes? 

  • Icon for: Jill Zande

    Jill Zande

    Co-Presenter
    President/Executive Director
    May 13, 2021 | 01:59 a.m.

    Hello again Gerhard!

    From the MATE ROV Competition perspective, we see this as increasing our capacity, reach, and accessibility in this time of COVID - and beyond! Inevitably each year we have teams that can't make it to the World Championship because they don't qualify, can't afford the trip, or have restrictions (this mainly applies to our international teams).  Giving those participants the opportunity to come together for a "shared experience" and have the social interaction and peer-to-peer networking that we know they appreciate and value about the competition event is huge for both them and us!  

    Jill

  • Icon for: Joselina Cheng

    Joselina Cheng

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 13, 2021 | 11:01 a.m.

    Hi,

    Did you also engage students in AI or machine learning?

  • Icon for: Jonathan Beck

    Jonathan Beck

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator/Director
    May 18, 2021 | 07:24 p.m.

    At this time there is not an AI or machine learning component to this work.

  • Icon for: Gerhard Salinger

    Gerhard Salinger

    Facilitator
    Former Program Officer (NSF)
    May 13, 2021 | 02:09 p.m.

    I guess I need a video of what social VR looks like from the point of view of a user in a specific situaation.  

  • Icon for: Jonathan Beck

    Jonathan Beck

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator/Director
    May 18, 2021 | 07:22 p.m.

    Gerhard,

    You can find video recordings from our pilot workshop on the NCAT website, using the link below, under the WORKSHOP RECORDINGS section halfway down the page.

    https://ncatech.org/autonomous-vehicle-technology-sensors/

    There are also videos on the NCAT YouTube Channel

    We are working on a short clip to demonstrate the most impactful aspects we’ve found as we’ve piloted social VR experiences and immersive environments as a part of STEM outreach and educator workshops.  On the NCAT website, you can find a white paper developed by the NCAT team, following our first social VR pilot experience for an Educator Workshop we hosted last October.

    https://ncatech.org/reports-summaries/- Reports and Journals - White Paper - Social VR Professional Development Workshops

    I also saw your questions, and others, asking about assessing student learning outcomes, impact data and evaluation matrix.  To be honest we are not at that point yet with Social VR.  In some respects, we’re building the plane/drone as we are flying it.  Less than a year ago, we were at the start of an idea and concept to develop digital interactive environments and experiences that brought people together in new ways and might appeal to a technology savvy audience and the future technician workforce.  A global pandemic created extreme challenges, but also led our team to think outside the box. We made a pivotal shift to leverage and quickly expand the early piloting and bootstrapping initiatives of developing digital learning tools and immersive environments for STEM outreach and educator workshop activities.  Leading up to these experiences, there were uncertainties and discomfort thinking about how it would all work (even from the internal team).  If you review the white paper referenced above, you’ll see by all accounts it was a positive experience that has unlocked the doors to new ideas.

    When we started thinking about a MATE Virtual World, to support the MATE ROV Competition, less than 6 months ago (really…. WOW), the team was thinking about goals and outcomes from the MATE competition perspective and how we could define success for our first major milestones:

    We created the MATE ROV Competition VR World to enable students and mentors to experience the competition even if they are not able to be there in person and to facilitate the social interaction, peer-to-peer networking, and “shared experience” that student’s value and appreciate about the MATE ROV Competition – and are especially craving during the pandemic.

    On May 1st and 2nd, we connected the MATE Virtual World, to the physical event held at Gray's Reef - Southeast Regional ROV Competition.  The team tested and piloted new developments adding features such as live streaming into the Virtual World from the underwater pool cameras and the event commentators.  You can access the recording of the LIVESTREAM as it was viewed in the MATE ROV Auditorium in AltSpace by visiting https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1007250239 (the "action" starts about 46 minutes in!).  At 2 hours, you’ll see a picture in picture, with Jill Zande and Cathy Sakas commentating inside the underwater pool view presenting in virtual space.  Stay tuned for the upcoming events and continuous advancements of the social interaction and experiences leading to the World Competition in August and our future analysis as to whether we have reached the goal of how we initially defined success.

  • Icon for: Ning Wang

    Ning Wang

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2021 | 08:13 a.m.

    Great works! Have you assessed how VR, AR, and traditional media like videos are differently affecting students' learning?

  • Icon for: Jonathan Beck

    Jonathan Beck

    Lead Presenter
    Principal Investigator/Director
    May 18, 2021 | 07:24 p.m.

    Ning,

    That is a great question.  We are still working on the assessment components.  See my response to Gerhard above.

  • Icon for: Susan Haynes

    Susan Haynes

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2021 | 03:22 p.m.

    It is great to see the practical, social learning aspect of VR. I am so impressed by the drastic pivot that MATE did to bring the ROV competition to life virtually. What a way to engage students from a whole different perspective! The necessary shifts as a result of the pandemic have really opened our eyes to new opportunities and I expect to see a lot of very blended learning environments/approaches in the future. Really exciting!

  • Icon for: Jill Zande

    Jill Zande

    Co-Presenter
    President/Executive Director
    May 14, 2021 | 03:31 p.m.

    Susan, 

    Thank you so much for your kind words and support of this endeavor!  NOAA has been an amazing, longtime MATE partner.  We're excited to see where this takes us beyond the 2021 competition season!

    Jill

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Susan Haynes
  • Icon for: Hector Castrillon Costa

    Hector Castrillon Costa

    Graduate Student
    May 15, 2021 | 11:47 a.m.

    First, congratulations on the success of your project. Your research has so many really interesting components. The one that caught my attention the most was social virtual reality and the possibility of creating a virtual world were all participants are participating of the learning experience, even when they are miles away. Its there any particular reference of social inquiries regarding social virtual reality from which you draw for you study and conclussions?

  • Icon for: Yolanda Abel

    Yolanda Abel

    Facilitator
    Associate Professor
    May 15, 2021 | 12:02 p.m.

    Great use of VR for learning and social interaction. 

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