Monday Musings: VR Lab Learnings

Random Musings ,Virtual Reality ,Web Development
March 7, 2016

Welcome to Monday Musings! These are are shorter-form, note-like blog posts that I share that may or may not be related to VR/AR, but that I want to share some quick thoughts on, get some extra insight on, or share out quickly.

This past week, I got to visit Stanford to teach a guest lecture about virtual reality around social impact and ways that VR can be a medium for enacting positive change in the world. The above image is a snip that I grabbed of the A-Frame site we did in the lab to teach the basics of the A-Frame framework, a simple animation of undersea garbage dissolving and sinking to the ocean floor.

Instead of focusing on this specific lab project, though, I wanted to share the process I use for a ~2 hr lab project with students who are new to VR:

  • ~25 minutes – overview & topic introduction

Give a basic overview of the virtual reality ecosystem as it exists today. Talk about the differences between desktop and mobile VR, and show targeted examples of virtual reality applications that are interesting/relevant to the audience. Explain the major types of VR experiences, and cover the developer ecosystem (native, game engine, web, etc.)

  • 1hr 15min – hands on lab time and programming

Allow time for students to build a project themselves! This can be done a few ways, but I’ve noticed that some ways work better for groups depending on how much experience that they have programming. In short (<2 hour) labs with “new” developers (<1 year of coding) I’ve found that doing a structured lab, where I provide all of the code snippets, works best. We spend the time going along showing how all of the code works and how it fits together, and the students don’t have to spend as much time just trying to check syntax when they can compare it directly to the documented code.

  • ~20 minutes – troubleshooting + Q & A

Always include time for students to ask questions! This helps keep students engaged to the end, and to cover material specific to what is on the audience’s mind at the last moment. I always like to plan to save time after presentations to do Q&A, as I’ve never once had an experience where there weren’t follow up questions and people wanting to learn more.

If you’re curious about the exact lab that I used, head over to GitHub and check out the template / tutorial.

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