Waynesburg University has been awarded a $2.5M grant from EON Reality, Inc., to fund implementation of virtual and augmented reality (XR) experiences through EON-XR, the company’s flagship solution.
“Students [will be able to] pull their cell phones out of their pockets, put on simple three-dimensional glasses, and become immersed in experiential lessons. They can visit locations around the world, manipulate objects in three dimensions, and take apart and rebuild complex models,” said Dr. James Rieker, instructional designer at Waynesburg University. “In effect, students will learn by doing, making, and exploring in ways that were not possible before.”
The EON Reality grant will provide faculty with the tools necessary to build XR learning experiences for students across a host of disciplines, at both the undergraduate and the graduate level.
“We have many faculty members already excited about including both virtual and augmented reality components into classes that they teach,” said Dr. Evonne Baldauff, Assistant Provost for Online Learning & Curriculum Development and Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Forensic Science. “I believe that this initiative will place the University at the ground level of early adopters of XR technologies.”
I believe that this initiative will place the University at the ground level of early adopters of XR technologies.”
Dr. Janet Paladino, professor of biology, was instrumental in identifying and pursuing this grant opportunity. Motivated to tackle challenges presented to higher education by the pandemic, Paladino spent time over the summer exploring new ways to utilize technology to enhance learning opportunities.
“After conducting a great deal of research, I discovered that there is a whole world out there, a virtual one, with the potential to revolutionize teaching and learning,” shared Paladino.
Paladino plans to utilize EON Reality’s XR solution to create 360° virtual field trips and lesson plans to educate students about international environmental issues and hopes to develop international collaborative efforts using EON-XR.
She is also interested in using the technology to develop virtual worlds in the biological sciences where students can travel inside a cell to study photosynthesis, or experience pollination of plants from the perspective of a honey bee.
“The possibilities for creating virtual worlds in STEM education are infinite!” Paladino said.
The implementation plan includes training a cohort of faculty on the platform beginning this fall, with several projects being piloted during the first year. The early focus will be on developing the supporting structures on campus and utilizing the University’s instructional design team’s expertise to pilot lessons.
Over the course of five years, the technology will be implemented in academic programs across campus, likely providing every student at Waynesburg the opportunity to experience XR in a class at some point.
“Seeing a university like Waynesburg that is so eager and excited to bring EON-XR to their students and faculty is always thrilling for me, as it furthers my belief that we are truly making a difference in transforming education,” said Dan Lejerskar, EON Reality Founder and Chairman. “As we have seen over the last 18 months, providing students with hands-on and immersive experiences can be crucial for a proper classroom setting, and I can’t wait to see how Waynesburg University is able to utilize EON-XR to create, publish, and experience more XR content. Creating partnerships like this, both across America and around the world, is what EON Reality, our global network, and the knowledge metaverse are all about."
EON-XR integrates into the University’s existing learning management system, Canvas.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the University,” Rieker said. “Our goal is to become leaders in educating our students with innovative and immersive learning technologies. We hope to partner with other institutions across the country to build collaborations that make the most of these emerging technologies as we develop best practices for their use.”
About EON Reality
EON Reality is the world leader in Augmented and Virtual Reality academic and industry training solutions. The company believes that knowledge is a human right and should be available and affordable for every human on the planet.
To carry this out, EON Reality has spent the last 20 years developing the de-facto standard for XR education and industry solutions that support devices from mobile phones to head-mounted displays to large-scale screens and facilities. With more than 20 locations worldwide, EON Reality has created the largest XR training library with over 8,000 applications and 40 million users around the world.
Learn more at eonreality.com.
About Waynesburg University
Consistently ranked a best value school, Waynesburg University’s Strategy for the 21st Century affirms its commitment to developing an entrepreneurial mindset and ethical leadership skills for all students. Rooted in its mission of faith, learning and service, the private, Christian university is located on a traditional campus in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, with an additional site for graduate and professional programs in Southpointe.