Beyond Zoom: Promise and Reality of XR Program

A Virtual Conference
Thursday, 15 April 2021 & Friday, 16 April 2021

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This conference was a sequel to last year’s “Beyond Zoom: XR For Teaching and Research in the COVID-19 Era,” which highlighted the role of XR in remote teaching, learning and research contexts. In this follow-up conference speakers presented their work in the context of the future promise and current reality of XR, particularly in response to changing world events like COVID, social polarization, and erosion of trust in scientific research and communication.

Introduction and Welcome April 15, 12PM EDT (UTC/GMT -4) 🎞

  • Dan Rockmore, Associate Dean for the Sciences; Director, Neukom Institute for Computational Science; William H. Neukom 1964 Professor Computational Science; Dartmouth College

Keynote: April 15, 12PM-1PM EDT (UTC/GMT -4) 

Devising and Directing Theatre in Virtual Worlds 🎞

Headshot of Keynote Speaker, Samantha Gorman
  • Samantha Gorman, Northeastern CAMD Art+Design

Samantha Gorman is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern CAMD Art+Design where she specializes in writing for interactive media and theater/performance in cinema, games and virtual reality. She is also the co-director/founder of Tender Claws: a game, art and tech studio. Samantha’s narratives often center on speculative design futures; to this end, the close marriage of critical narrative and interaction mechanics is meant to foster a reflective/informed viewership of the technology being consumed.Work from Tender Claws has launched nearly every major immersive platform and received industry awards and accolades including a finalist Juried Emmy in Interactive Programming. Projects have been covered in The New York Times, Vice, BBC radio, The Verge, Forbes, Wired, The LA Times and Engadget. Current work includes “Tempest” — one of the world’s first remote, ticketed VR plays led by a live actor — and an unannounced satire game about the death of online communities.

Session 1: April 15, 1PM-2PM EDT (UTC/GMT -4) 

1.1 Virtual Worlds, Virtual Reality and 360° Films to Help Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients 🎞

  • Alyssa Indelicato, Special Projects Coordinator, Public Health & Preventive Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University
  • Cindi Tysick, Head, Education Services, Libraries, University at Buffalo

Training Health Professionals Effective Communication Strategies with Alzheimer’s Patients and Their Caregivers: A Virtual Curriculum
We will share information about a virtual learning environment (VLE) that has been created to better prepare students to engage with Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. The VLE includes a clinical space, clinical office, and a patient’s home environment for students to practice their health communication skills and to better understand the lived experience.

Creating a Collection of 360° Films for Teaching and Research and Assisting Dementia Patients w/VR
The UB Libraries’ Education Services and Multimedia team partners with students to offer them an opportunity to work on a cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) project aimed at providing dementia patients respite from daily impairments and feelings of isolation.

This session features faculty and staff from the State University of New York (SUNY) who have implemented virtual worlds and simulation as part of their teaching, learning, and professional development activities. Part of a series of SUNY presentations <> .

1.2 Artful Innovation with XR in Higher Education 🎞

  • Paula MacDowell, Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan

While the new wave of XR tools offers the potential for transformative and engaged pedagogy, the implementation must prioritize learning objectives and student experiences. I will discuss some of the “do’s and don’ts” for integrating XR to achieve course outcomes and enhance engagement. You will learn new ideas for artfully innovating with immersive technologies to facilitate student interaction, creativity, and collaboration in your courses.

1.3 Emerging applications and challenges for virtual campus spaces 🎞

  • Matthew Lewis, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University

Recent progress and strategies will be presented for creating virtual spaces for online collaborative interdisciplinary research. Adopting emerging software technologies is introducing new challenges for academic environments.

More information:

1.4 Engaging Students and Faculty in Social Virtual Worlds 🎞

  • Maya Georgieva, Director of  Education Futures and XReality Center

We will share insights about the work of the XReality Center as a focal point for pedagogical innovation and collaborations among schools and external partners. The Center has created a portfolio of curricular implementations, immersive projects, faculty and students workshops. This session shares insights from a major Immersive Learning Curriculum Initiative at The New School as a focal point for experimentation, pedagogical innovation, and collaboration with virtual worlds.

1.5 Virtual Makerspaces: Merging AR / VR / Kinect 3D scans to Enable Remote Collaborations in Physical Maker Activities 🎞

  • Iulian Radu, Research Scientist at Harvard University Graduate School of Education

We present a mixed-reality (MR) system for enabling remote collaborations in the context of maker activities, that allows groups of students and instructors to discuss, explore, create and learn about physical objects. The system combines augmented reality (AR) headsets, 3D cameras, PC and virtual reality (VR) interfaces, into a virtual space that contains multiple remote students, instructors, physical and virtual objects.

More information:

1.6 SUNY Undergraduate and Graduate Students Designing Mixed Reality Experiences 🎞

  • Brian O’Keefe, Assistant Professor, Interaction Design Program: Visual Communications, Farmingdale State College
  • Eileen O’Connor, Professor, School of Graduate Studies, Education Department, Empire State

Designing Mixed Reality Technologies within the Socio-Academic COVID-19 Undergraduate Experience
This session shares how students have designed mixed reality technologies within the social academic COVID-19 undergraduate experience. A part of the rationale for this work is to get students prepared for a job market that we can’t predict because of technology’s rapid movement and innovation. We will show examples including work within international programs to develop students into inventors of new mixed reality experiences.

Uses of Open-Source Immersive Virtual Reality Islands in an Online Graduate Program
The use of cost-effective, visually-robust virtual reality (VR) environments has allowed this online teacher-education graduate program to use VR spaces for instruction, meetings, poster sessions, simulations, and events. The affordability and development-flexibility of open-source spaces have also permitted a course where students can develop their own VR environments for their professional and career needs. Dr. O’Connor has been working in VR spaces since 2006.

This session features faculty and staff from the State University of New York (SUNY) who have implemented virtual worlds and simulation as part of their teaching, learning, and professional development activities. Part of a series of SUNY presentations <> .

Session 1 Q&A 🎞

Session 2: April 15, 2PM–3PM EDT (UTC/GMT -4)

2.1 Towards a Persistent Social Interaction Research Lab in VR 🎞

  • James Mahoney, Lecturer, Computer Science, Dartmouth College

Sharing the story behind a new virtual social interaction research lab built by Dartmouth undergraduate students and supported with a gift from Facebook: the SILvr project.

2.2 Design of a Tool Ecosystem for a Course on Leading in the Digital Age 🎞

  • Ana Reyes, CEO, New Worlds Enterprise Inc, Affiliated Faculty at Thomas Jefferson University and UPENN

This Jefferson University graduate course in strategic leadership utilized a real-time immersive collaboration and learning tool ecosystem to illustrate how immersive digital technologies can transform learning and work experiences, leadership practices and community building opportunities. The lightning round presentation will address the experimental course design question: Was it worthwhile to integrate an ecosystem of immersive learning tools into a leadership course for non-technical professionals?

Related Links:

  1. Try Virbela Free Virtual Campus
  2. Participate in an Open IDEO Crowdsourcing Challenge

2.3 Using VR creative tools to engage students in Virtual World Building to overcome social isolation 🎞

  • Dr. Nathalie Mathe, Assistant Professor of Immersive Media and VR, Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University

In fall 2020 we took advantage of Virtual Reality immersive potential and in-headset creative tools to remotely teach students how to create their own virtual worlds using an approach based on creative design thinking and rapid prototyping. This approach empowered students to quickly imagine, build and experience a better future where they could meet and overcome some of the pandemic issues of social isolation, depression and burnt out.

More Information:

2.4 Implementing VR at Ithaca College’s Teacher Education Program 🎞

  • Becky Lane, Ph.D. Associate Director of Innovative Technologies, Ithaca College
  • Brian Moynihan MBA | MSIS | MA Global Education Solutions Manager at Lenovo

This talk explores lessons learned from implementing VR in a pilot at Ithaca College’s Teacher Education Program. The talk includes the perspectives of the instructional technology lead, as well as commercial perspectives on what makes for a successful immersive learning experience in Higher Education using Lenovo’s VR Classroom solution.

More Information:


2.5 3D Modeling and XR for Student Engagement in Field Research in the Geosciences 🎞

  • Jonathan W. Chipman, Director, Citrin GIS/Applied Spatial Analysis Lab, Dartmouth College
  • Edward E. Meyer, Research Scientist, Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College
  • Jacob Chen ’22, Dartmouth College

For students in the geosciences, XR methods do not replace the need for in-situ field experience , but they can complement and expand those experiences by offering a remote method for visual exploration, interpretation, and analysis of real-world landscapes. New XR methods and practices will allow more students to contribute to field research and provide a more realistic virtual field experience, including collecting real-world geologic and environmental data in 3D models of landscapes.

2.6 Dream University Challenge: Fostering Community through Virtual Spaces 🎞

  • Emily Sherwood, Director, Digital Scholarship & Studio X
  • Muhammed El-Sayed, Immersive Technologies Developer, Karp Library Fellow

This presentation will provide an overview of the Dream University Challenge (, a week long hackathon-style event that asked students to use Mozilla Hubs to imagine, design, and build virtual university spaces that would foster community and combat social isolation brought about by COVID-19 restrictions.

More Information:

Session 2 Q&A 🎞

VR Happy Hour: April 15, 3PM-4:30PM EDT (UTC/GMT -4)

  • Dr. Anthony Betrus, SUNY Potsdam
  • Dr. Edward Schneider, Ithaca College
  • Steven Canning, SUNY Potsdam

This event requires an additional signup because we need to create an account for you in Glue! After you register for the conference, you will receive an email with a link to a Google Form. Please complete it by Wednesday, April 14 at 9AM Eastern Time to participate.

Join us from 3:00-4:30 for a social happy hour in Glue VR to meet other conference attendees in person. Guests will gather from 3:00-3:30 in an open-air conference space, followed by optional ice-breaker activities from 3:30-4:00. At 4:00 we will move to an indoor SCRUM space too continue to mingle and discuss social activity options for next year’s conference. Attendees are encourage to download, install, and familiarize themselves with Glue VR before the session, although staff and graduates assistants will on hand from 3:00-3:30 to assist anyone who did not get the chance to set things up in advance.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Grants Workshop: April 16, 9AM-10AM EDT (UTC/GMT -4)

Leveraging Grants to Fund your Virtual Reality Initiatives 🎞

  • Marianne Ellis, Program Manager, HP Grants Support Program, OTI
  • Liz Shay, Sr. Grants Development Consultant, Grants Office, LLC

Virtual reality provides many opportunities for innovation in education and research; however, funding those projects isn’t always easy. Have you considered grants funding? There are many grants that can support a wide variety of different types of VR projects. Join HP and Grants Office as we discuss grant programs for VR, strategies for getting your project funded through grants, and how to utilize the HP Grants Support Program for additional help with grant funding for your VR initiatives.

Section 3: April 16, 10AM-11AM EDT (UTC/GMT -4)

3.1 Traveling Without Moving: IMEX Lab’s Experience Catalogue + IMEX[cursions] 🎞

  • Nick Smerker, Traveling Media Consultant with Creative Learning Initiatives at Penn State University

Whether instructors are looking for a demonstration of what’s possible in virtual reality, an immersive tour of a landmark halfway around the world or aspects of the microcosm, the Experience Catalogue has them covered with curated 360º Video, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality content from a wide variety of creators. IMEX[cursions] build on this Catalogue by offering field trips which take viewers to the far corners of the globe, allowing for up-close and hands-on discovery of other cultures – their historical landmarks, cultural traditions, favorite cuisines and much more.

More Information:

3.2 Observing Immersion within Twitch: A Move from Offline to Online 🎞

  • Kevin Wang, Rutgers University

Through observatory means this study hopes to uncover how a qualitative approach might be conducted in a Covid-safe environment as well as the relationship between user and immersive virtual environment (IVE). The goal of this study is to observe if, and how, empathy is elicited in virtual reality gameplay through the observation of streamers on

3.3 XR literacy for healthcare education 🎞

  • Taliesin Haugh, independent researcher in sustainable design and anthropology
  • Federico Monaco, Research Fellow. PhD University of Parma, Social scientist and e-Learning designer

How to explain a tool to someone who’s never seen it – A meta-analysis focusing on solutions to bridging the digital divide in terms of XR integration for university level medical education.

3.4 Clarissa Street AR Experience: Revealing the Lost Architecture of a Historic African American Community 🎞

  • Susan Lakin Professor Rochester Institute of Technology – Co-Chari Frameless XR Lab
  • Tamar Carroll Associate Professor Rochester of Technology – Chair Department of History
  • Kelly Jahn Architect – Kelly Jahn Interior Architecture and Design Rochester NY
  • Joe Geigel Professor Rochester Institute of Technology – Co-Chair Frameless XR Lab
  • Jose DeCosta Co-Chair Person Clarissa Street Reunion
  • Christine Ridarsky City Historian – History & Genealogy Division Rochester Public Library
  • Jennifer Banister Development and Collaborations Manager – Center for Teen Empowerment

A collaborative community project, utilizing an interactive locative AR experience to recreate the architecture and history of the Clarissa St corridor in Rochester NY, a once thriving African American commercial district, dating back to 1810 and lost after the 1964 Rochester racial uprisings, urban renewal, and redlining. The use of AR will bring to life the former bustling neighborhood, overlaying historically accurate 3D models of demolished buildings at their former location, in contrast to the stark vacant lots remaining today.

More Information:

3.5 Augmenting University Legacies: The Penn & Slavery Project AR Tour 🎞

  • VanJessica Gladney, History PhD Student, University of Pennsylvania
  • Meaghan Moody, Immersive Technologies Librarian, University of Rochester

The Penn & Slavery Project augmented reality (AR) app explores the legacies of slavery and the slave trade at the University of Pennsylvania. Built by an interdisciplinary team of historians, librarians, developers, and designers, the AR app reveals the University’s complicity in and financial gain from slavery while also centering the significant contributions of Black people.

More Information:


3.6 Virtual Reality for Enhancement of Learning and Engagement in Undergraduate Biochemistry 🎞

  • Adam Brown, Program Director, Science of Learning Research Initiative, Columbia University
  • Parixit Davé, Director, Emerging Technologies, CUIT, Columbia University

Brent Stockwell, Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, partnered with Columbia’s Science of Learning Research Initiative and Emerging Technologies Consortium to explore the implementation of virtual reality learning experiences in an undergraduate biochemistry course. The project generated valuable insights regarding the alignment of immersive experiences and specific learning objectives through active engagement with 3D assets.

More Information:


Session 3 Q&A 🎞

Session 4: April 16, 11AM–12PM EDT (UTC/GMT -4)

4.1 (Re)coding Eels through VR + (Re)coding VR through Eels: Processes and Protocols for Decolonial VR 🎞

  • Michelle Brown (she/her or they/them), Charles Eastman Fellow, Department of Native American and Indigenous Studies, Dartmouth Studies
  • Kala Goyal (they/them), ITC/Neukom XR Fellow, Dartmouth College

The Eel Elder VR project, led by Dr. Michelle Brown, is being created with two goals: to reorient responses to eels, and to show how AI and ancient eel relational practices might shape each other. This presentation will also briefly touch on the abilities and limitations of XR as a tool for revitalizing and elevating marginalized cultures.

4.2 Exploring Marker-Based Augmented Reality for GeoSciences Outreach 🎞

  • Dorothy Ogdon, MSIS, AHIP, Head of Emerging Technology and System Development | Associate Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham Libraries

This talk will provide an overview of our experience implementing a marker-based augmented reality project using AR.JS and Github Pages. We anticipate integrating marker-based augmented reality into university-level laboratory exercises, outreach workshops for K-12 educators, and interactive exhibits in museum settings.

More Information: Users can scan this marker with any smartphone camera app that has an included QR code reader or a separate QR code reading app. Users must allow the app to open the website linked to the QR code, then allow the site to access the camera.

4.3 Where We Stand: Black Theatre and Storytelling in VR Project 🎞

  • Monica White Ndounou, PhD, Associate Professor of Theater, affiliated with African and African American Studies and Film and Media Studies, Dartmouth College

Using Black culture and Black theatre texts as inspiration to model a safe space in the virtual world for Black storytelling, we have built a multi-user platform to explore creative practice for artists as well as a viewing experience for audiences. We are currently testing the functionality of the platform in my “Black Theater, USA” course in preparation for my “Black Storytelling in XR” course this summer which will use the virtual theatre space to teach and learn theatre practice and stage a workshop production.

4.4 Freely-available Emerging Technologies for Connected Learning and Simulations 🎞

  • Nicole Simon, Associate Professor, Engineering, Physics, & Technology, Nassau Community College
  • Roberta (Robin) Sullivan, Teaching and Learning Strategist, Education Services, Libraries, University at Buffalo

EmTechWIKI: A Socially Curated Collection of Freely-available Emerging Technologies for AR, VR, & Simulations
EmTechWIKI is a socially-curated discovery engine to discover tools, tutorials, and resources about a variety of freely-available established and emerging technologies including audio, video, blogs, wikis, presentations, simulations, and more. This session highlights resources found within the simulations category that are useful to learn about and create augmented and virtual reality, 3D modeling/printing, and other simulations. This WIKI can be used as a stand-alone resource, or it can be used together with #EmTechMOOC.

Use of Virtual and Simulations in STEM for Center for Online International Learning (COIL) Collaborations
In these virtual times, there are many new ways that students can interact with virtual labs and simulations that are online and easily accessible. This presentation will share a sampling of some of those activities appropriate for use in undergraduate physics and other STEM-related environments.

This session features faculty and staff from the State University of New York (SUNY) who have implemented virtual worlds and simulation as part of their teaching, learning, and professional development activities. Part of a series of SUNY presentations <> .

4.5 Using New Virtual Spaces for Conference Networking and Community 🎞

  • Gina Sipley, Assistant Professor, Critical Reading / Women’s Studies, Nassau Community College
  • Roberta (Robin) Sullivan, Teaching and Learning Strategist, Education Services, Libraries, University at Buffalo and Wonder for Conference Presentations
This session features and Wonder as tools that can be used for virtual conferences and why virtual conferences are equitable, accessible, and sustainable and how they are going to be a crucial part of the post-pandemic University.

Use Virbela, Mozilla HUBs, and Other Virtual Worlds for Conferences, Poster/Exhibit Hall, & After-party Celebrations
We will share an overview of a selection of virtual world platforms that are being used as a part of many of today’s virtual conferences and community-building events. We will highlight some of the affordances and the challenges that these new communication and collaboration channels provide.

This session features faculty and staff from the State University of New York (SUNY) who have implemented virtual worlds and simulation as part of their teaching, learning, and professional development activities. Part of a series of SUNY presentations <> .

Session 4 Q&A 🎞

Thanks! 🎞

Hubs Wrapup and Demo Session: April 16, 12PM–1PM EDT (UTC/GMT -4)

We have created a quick video guide to logging into Hubs.

Hubs can be viewed through a number of devices and platforms, from web browsers to VR headsets. For more information on how to use Hubs after signing in, please see the Hubs documentation at .


  • Dartmouth College:
    • Information, Technology, and Consulting
    • The Neukom Institute
    • Film and Media Studies
  • University of Pennsylvania:
    • Cinema and Media Studies
    • Online Learning Initiative

This conference is sponsored by Dartmouth Information, Technology, and Consulting, and the University of Pennsylvania Online Learning Initiative.