What if biology students could perform dissections in three-dimensional space or history students could be instantly transported to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam? At the Hedwig Schindler Virtual Reality Lab, now they can. Located on the sixth floor of the Newman Vertical Campus, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences’ facility opened in Spring 2018 with a gift from Mrs. Hedwig Feit (née Schindler).
The first of its kind at Baruch, the Schindler Virtual Reality Lab is in keeping with the Weissman School’s mission to deliver forward-looking student experiences and with the College’s greater commitment to technology and curricular development. The lab, which accommodates 20 students and offers a variety of technologies, puts the emphasis on immersive, undergraduate-centered learning and teaching. Equipment includes virtual reality (VR) headset goggles, 3D VR eyewear, and hand-held sensors and interactive controllers. Says Weissman Dean Aldemaro Romero Jr., PhD, the driving force behind the lab, “No generation of students is as highly visual, digitally savvy, and excited about hands-on learning as the current generation.”
For faculty the VR lab serves as a research and testing grounds, a place to explore the educational potential of existing VR experiences and to customize content. To date, professors from the natural sciences, social sciences, and arts have submitted proposals that integrate the lab into their courses in ways that promise to revolutionize what and how they teach. “With this technology, we can dramatically change Baruch’s liberal arts and science curricula,” says Dean Romero.
David P. Christy, PhD, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, agrees, “We are going to see tremendous growth and development in this technology, with applications to student learning and teaching as yet unimagined.”