Bringing Virtual Reality to the Stanford d.school

Joining the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) Team

Fall of 2014, I received a grant to collaborate with graduate students in the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) on campus, one of the best virtual reality research and development centers in the world.

Part of my initiation to the lab involved completing a two-week-long intensive training seminar, led by Jeremy Bailenson and Cody Karutz, where I learned how to design and program virtual world experiences in Python, and 3D-model and render virtual avatars and animations in the Autodesk 3ds Max softwareI also became familiarized with the hardware set up in the Lab (Oculus Rift DK1s, DK2s, and more) and learned how to run my own VHIL tours and simulations.

Upon completing my initiation to the Lab, I embarked on one of the most exciting design projects that I have pursued on Stanford campus, to date:

Launching my own design project, with the Stanford d.school and VHIL

With the support of my mentors in the Lab, I launched my own creative design project in partnership with the Stanford d.school. My mission was to collaborate with Creativity expert Tina Seelig on designing and integrating virtual experiences into her d.school course, "Engineering Innovation.”

Over the summer of 2014 leading into the Fall, I jumped onto the core, leadership team for the course, which included:

  • Tina Seelig (Stanford Technology Ventures Program)
  • Aleta Hayes (Theatre and Performance Studies Department)
  • Cynthia Lee (Teacher's Assistant and Stanford Graduate student in the Management Science and Engineering Program)

Together, we designed and developed the "Engineering Innovation" course curriculum from scratch.

Bringing Virtual Reality into the d.school

I hand-picked four different virtual reality experiences to integrate into our classroom, catered directly to the course curriculum that we had designed and developed as a team. For example, one specific virtual reality experience was meant to further challenge students' thinking after they had learned about the topic of "Creative Story-telling" in class, and so on.

I additionally organized and took care of all logistical information involving our work in Virtual Reality, including bringing in and preparing Oculus Rift DK1s and computers with the proper specs to run our virtual reality experiences. During the simulations in class, I documented students' experiences with thorough notes, photographs, and videos that recorded their thoughts and experiences before, during, and after the simulations. These deliverables were then used by social science research sector of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab to advance research on bringing VR into realms of education.

Designing and Developing d.school Course Materials

While I had initially stepped onto the course leadership team with the focus of just bringing VR into the classroom, my passion for education and the d.school inspired me to play a much more integral role on the team over time.

I attended all classes throughout the quarter, including those that did not include or relate to virtual reality experiences at all. During class, I helped answer questions, lead exercises, and mentor students through the design process as they embarked on the design challenges we had created for them.

One of my favorite projects for the class was designing and developing our course materials from scratch. For example, I created a series of customizable cards for reflection on course exercises and assignments, which the students completed after every single class meeting:

D.school Class Reflection Cards

At the end of the course, students collected a unique keyring collection of these cards containing insights they had gathered throughout the quarter, as a fun commemoration of their time and work.

I also created simple "Before/After" reflection cards for students to observe both their expectations going into virtual reality simulations and their thoughts and emotions directly after:

Virtual Reality Experience Reflection Card: Before

Virtual Reality Experience Reflection Card: After