Education innovation

Virtual Reality Educational Tool for Lab Demonstration

chemistry classes often comprise both in-classroom instruction and laboratory. Usually, these two components are separated for different time allocations and classrooms. Would it be possible to provide just-in-time laboratory demonstrations during lectures? Our group has developed a concept using 360 VR streaming to fit this need.

The below figure panel (a) describes the design of this VR educational tool. A teaching assistant (TA) is equipped with a VR camera attached to a camera vest to perform an experiment in the lab (panel (b)). The camera captures experimental details in real-time and then broadcast via a server to the instructor and students outside the laboratory. The TA is connected with the instructor through a voice line. The students watch the streaming of the chemistry experiment with VR goggles (or with the web browser of their computer, if VR goggles are not available). The TA, the instructor, and the students interact around the experiment's content as the demonstration proceeds. The pace of the experiment is mediated by the instructor with real-time feedback from the students. The VR streaming provides an immersive watching experience for the students, and the learning is strengthened by discussions at each step with the instructor and TA. The technical details of the VR educational tool are described in a Chemrxiv preprint (DOI: 10.26434/ chemrxiv.12040173.v1).

A view from the 360 camera inside a fume hood, while performing the experiment.

The students can watch the VR streaming with either goggle or browser.

This VR education tool is good for laboratory course demonstration, including in conditions that need social distancing (e.g., during COVID pandemic).

An updated operational scheme of the VR educational tool. The VR360 camera (Ricoh Theta Z1) can directly stream to internet streaming server (Youtube). Youtube allows broadcasting to many students. The downside is that such implementation has a ~5 second delay time in streaming.