Week 9: VR in a Classroom Setting

I found that reading Cecire’s article before diving into “Virtual Reality for Humanities Scholarship” by Lisa Snyder gave me a different perspective in assessing the challenges that VR technology faces in the near future. Having taken Snyder’s 150 class in 3D modeling, I particularly enjoyed exploring the variety of mediums that this new digital technology allows both scholars and students to research and interact with humanities subjects. For example, our class was able to take a virtual field trip in Second Life that was led by Professor Gill from ASU who spoke to us through the program and talked about the historical facts and decision-making in rebuilding the environment of the heritage site. She gave us ample time to ask her questions and do some of our own exploring as some bits and pieces of information were also embedded into the plantation models themselves. However, I feel that for a good half of the tour, many of the students were getting sidetracked either by the novelty of the virtual trip, having difficulties navigating, or getting distracted by many of the in-game mechanics that Second Life provides.

Although this was a great example of a concrete way in getting students to learn about a piece of history and space, I couldn’t help but reference Cecire’s point about “formulating a theory out of lived experience” and “how to communicate tacit knowledge.” This experience was probably a better example of more doing than saying as the act of partaking on this trip overshadowed much of the content, which was the point in the context of our digital humanities class. Yet, if the professor who led this project were to have set a guideline of evaluating and answering questions through the exploration of the site, students may be able to learn much more about the historical context of the model.

I also found Scheinfeldt’s post about “niceness” in digital humanities very revealing about the nature concerning method and theory. The debate between which tool to use when conducting an academic project using virtual technology is much easier to solve as opposed to the controversial research concerning the project’s topic. Moreover, Snyder mentions a “5:1 ratio for time spent on research versus computer modeling.” However, I believe that many of these projects end up becoming under appreciated by students depending on the backgrounds they come from and their interests in the topic of investigation. Cecire’s article raises an issue that perhaps someone from a background of unlimited childhood computer access would take away or even focus on a different portion of a project than someone of a lower socio-economic status who may get easily lost in the methodology that the theory is presented in. These limitations should be further explored while embracing the inherent difference in the act of saying and doing.


Natalia Cecire’s “Introduction: Theory and the Virtues of Digital Humanities”

Lisa Snyder’s “Virtual Reality for Humanities Scholarship”

ASU’s virtual campus: https://alysongill.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/2008-asu-virtual-campus-sl/