With a launch date scheduled in time for the media studies capstone project “Emerge” next semester, students across all programs will soon be able to use new VR technology as a learning tool.


“VR is opening up a door into another world and the exciting thing happens when we are in that world together,” said in a promotional video by American VR company Oculus.


That’s what the University of Guelph-Humber is planning to do. An idea that came about a few years ago will finally come to light just in time for Emerge, a final project that includes an awards show, a magazine and a series of events run by media studies students across all specializations.


Marc Tavares, media technologies specialist, can see a use for VR in all seven programs, giving examples that media studies can utilize it for immersive film, kinesiology for demonstrating human anatomy and psychology for learning how to retrain the brain and its therapeutic use.


“It’s opening up the door to the immortal world,” says Tavares. He says VR is a very powerful tool in many different fields, giving an example with health sciences and how users can gain empathy by letting you experience colour blindness.


Tavares says that the equipment will be set up in the photo studio on the fourth floor.


Kathy Ullyott, program head of media studies, says that “VR and AR (augmented reality) are critical in any media studies program now.” Ullyott says she would like to have VR classes in the future, but at this point in time the goal is to make professors aware of the available technology.


Ullyott also says that there is no stipulation as to who can use the VR technology. Whether for recreational purposes or for a course, it’s all about the experience. “That’s how you appreciate its value.”


Students who attended the study abroad trip to New York and Los Angeles last summer had the opportunity to visit Emblematic, a pioneering VR company for filmmakers and storytellers.


Fourth-year media studies student Claire Beazley was there. “We met some of the creators there and the founder of the company, Nonny de la Peña, happened to walk in the room while we were there and that was extremely cool.”


Since then, Beazley has become very interested in the topic and is excited to showcase the new technology during Emerge this spring.


Ullyott and Tavares are both eager to get the VR technology up and running, with Tavares saying, “VR is here to stay.”