January 16th, 2019

College VR Book Club open to virtually all


By Bobinec, Greg on January 10, 2019.

Keaton Baker tests out the virtual reality equipment at the Lethbridge College annual Merging Realities event, last April. The college continues its exploration in virtual and augmented reality with their new VR/AR Book Club. Herald photo by Greg Bobinec @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

Expanding more into the world of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), Lethbridge College is inviting anyone with an interest to join its new book club.

The VR Book Club is just like any other book club, where people with a shared interest read and discuss a book, with a twist – the capabilities of virtual reality mean this club is open to anyone across the world.

“We already have more than 70 people from six continents signed up for the first session,” says Mike McCready, Lethbridge College Multimedia Production instructor. “Our discussions will be hosted by the AltspaceVR virtual reality platform, which means anyone with access to VR can join through an interactive environment. But even if you don’t have VR capabilities, you can still watch and discuss through your computer or mobile device, so it really is open to everyone.”

The first selection for the VR Book Club is “Augmented Human: How Technology is Shaping the New Reality” by Dr. Helen Papagiannis, the world’s leading expert in augmented reality. The book is described as an essential read for designers, developers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and for anyone who desires to look at the virtual future. The first discussion will be covering the first three chapters and takes place at 2 p.m. Friday, with follow-up sessions on Jan. 18 and 25.

“Virtual reality provide the ability to share ideas and learn with people from across the globe,” says McCready. “When you put on the headset, you can talk with people from anywhere in the world and feel like they are in the room with you. This is one of the benefits of social VR and what makes the VR Book Club so interesting. We will be hearing perspectives from dozens of people from around the world.”

Lethbridge College continues to develop into a leader in the field of virtual and augmented reality, incorporating the technology into various programs including Multimedia Production, Digital Communications and Media, Interior Design Technology, Wind Turbine Technology and a variety of health and nursing programs.

The college’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation is exploring how to incorporate the technology into the classroom for all programs. Last April, the college hosted the world’s first VR/AR conference held entirely in CR, when Merging Realities brought together hundreds of participants from 16 countries. The second annual Merging Realities will take place on April 25.

“The passion for the virtual and augmented reality industry is evident across Lethbridge College,” says Kris Hodgson-Bright, chair of the School of Media and Design. “With the work that is going on in various programs and departments, to the creativity of brainstorming new ways to engage with audiences around the globe, all of this work in this field really makes it clear how effective it is to work and collaborate with a global audience. We are so excited for the new ways Lethbridge College is embracing this technology daily.”

There is no cost to join the VR Book Club, but participants are responsible for acquiring their own copy of “Augmented Human.” Everyone who takes part in the club is eligible to win prizes, including MERGE Cubes and books by Cathy Hackl and Charlie Fink. New selections for the book club will be chosen every other month. For more information on the book club and to sign up, visit bit.ly/VRBookClub.

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