Inside Look: EOU’s Mobile Virtual Reality Lab
Keywords:virtual reality, academic libraries, library programming, interdisciplinary library collaborations, anatomy and physiology, Eastern Oregon University, SharecareYOU VR, COVID-19 pandemic and libraries
An American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funded the establishment of a virtual reality lab at Eastern Oregon University (EOU) Library during the 2021-22 academic year. Virtual reality, or VR, simulates experiences with the aid of technology, most commonly specialized headsets that allow the user to see and feel like they are immersed in a virtual space. It can be used for gaming, entertainment, fitness, social interaction, and education. The project at EOU began with a collaboration with the Anatomy and Physiology course in which students investigated the inner workings of human organs and systems in VR as a lab assignment. The project has grown to include collaborations with History, Psychology, Health and Human Performance, Student Affairs, and other campus departments. The grant funding helped us to provide innovative digital content to our rural college students without any charge to them, and also helped to build learning experiences that were superior to what had been offered during the prior, more restrictive year of the pandemic. For the library, this wasn’t so much a pandemic-induced pivot as it was an opportunity to offer engaging, cutting-edge, free, and accessible learning experiences to our students.