Monday, June 24, 2024

Virtual Reality walk-in sessions at MSU library engage students and staff with new opportunity

January 20, 2024
The MSU Library worker demonstrates one of the VR headsets for gaming at MSU Library's new VR room on Jan. 16, 2024.
The MSU Library worker demonstrates one of the VR headsets for gaming at MSU Library's new VR room on Jan. 16, 2024.

"Open Virtual Reality" walk-in sessions are back at the MSU Library, providing students and faculty with the opportunity to try on a VR headset and experience different games, team building exercises, educational learning opportunities and more.

Transformative technology coordinator for the Digital Scholarship Lab Paul Cooper said he wants these VR events to provide knowledge to the user, while also creating a fun environment for them to encapsulate themselves in. 

“We want users to feel that there are no barriers to them learning VR,” Cooper said. “We want to introduce people to the concept of VR to keep it fresh in people's minds, and we want to keep adding new software. Not everybody has the chance to go out and buy a VR headset on their own, but this gives them the chance for them to come in here and play with it.” 

The VR room, which is located in the Digital Scholarship Lab on the second floor of the MSU main library, is a compact space with large monitors and televisions attached to the walls. Connected to the monitors are separate VR headsets and joystick controllers, allowing multiple people to play with an abundance of games and apps all at once. 

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Users can log into their personal accounts to access their own VR content, or use the content that’s available in the room. More information about what’s available can be seen on the MSU libraries website

According to Cooper, this event has been running since the Digital Scholarship Lab started in 2018 and has gained steady traction since its opening. One thing that makes this event so appealing, Cooper said, is the varying range of opportunity in the open sessions. 

Cooper said the lab will continue offering walk-in sessions so people can “experience discovery."

According to international relations and information science junior Joshua Ennis, “experiencing discovery” is exactly what students come in and do. 

“Typically, students don’t even necessarily know what they’re looking for, and typically they’re extra explorative,” Ennis said. “These kids are coming in and trying something new. Most of the library is a new experience, you’re only here for a few years, so it’s about finding this new opportunity, like trying out the VR system and getting to know and understand how the technology works with the user interface.” 

Ennis, who is a patron of the Digital Scholarship Lab, helps students participating in the walk-in sessions get set up with VR by going through the tutorial with them and recommending what games and apps to try out. He said one of the best parts of the job is watching students express themselves while in the world of virtual reality. 

But it’s not just students that attend the sessions, as MSU faculty and staff also try out this new experience. According to both Cooper and Ennis, faculty regularly use the VR sessions to construct classes and projects, view other countries, conduct research and sometimes even commit to playing games

Ennis explained that one professor mapped out their whole trip to Rome on Google Earth VR, all from the “safe place of MSU.” Ennis said these benefits make VR so special

The Open Virtual Reality walk-in sessions take place every Tuesday and Thursday from 3 - 6 p.m. and continue until the last event on March 7. More information can be found on the MSU library website

“I hope this event continues to grow, and I really think it will given that we have such a well put together system," Ennis said. “If I had to persuade a student to check this event out, I’d tell them about the array of opportunities in this room, but I’d also tell them to come in and check out the Spiderman VR game, which is super fun.” 

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