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Yavapai College: Field Trip Into Virtual Reality

In many ways, it was a class like any other. Dr. Brandelyn Andres’s ART 201 students journeyed to a museum to analyze the compositional details within Renaissance and modern artworks. Yavapai College took a giant leap into next-generation learning on Tuesday, with its first collegiate class taught in a virtual reality space. They discussed implied lines and biomorphic shapes long enough to make you forget: The museum was digital; the students were still in the classroom; and the entire lesson was conducted on their headsets and in their minds.

“So much of the study of art is interaction,” Dr. Andres said. “We lose so much when we project a slide onto a screen or look in a book. If you can move around it, you can understand the scale.” So she created a digital gallery on the web. Her students, in virtual reality headsets, entered the gallery through avatars, then identified and discussed basic design elements of each painting. “I thought it would be a good way to introduce them not only to Art History but to the technology of virtual reality in general.”

The lesson is part of a broad initiative that Yavapai College introduced last Spring, when YC received a grant from Meta to develop Virtual Reality classes. Working with digital education provider VictoryXR, the College is honing an immersive virtual platform where students and teachers use synchronized headsets to learn in digitized environments. YC has also begun to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, including ChatGPT, into its visual arts programs to expand students’ analytical capabilities and challenge their creative skill sets.

“Virtual and augmented reality are going to change almost every industry, including education.” Yavapai College President Dr. Lisa Rhine explained. “YC plans to be on the cutting edge of that change.” The College will be launching other VR and AI-assisted learning opportunities, in fields ranging from Healthcare to the Skilled Trades, across its six campuses and learning centers this fall. “It is an incredible way to learn,” Rhine said.

For Dr. Andres, the lesson also helps students develop technical literacy skills that will serve them in the workforce. “These will be tools that their employer will expect them to use. Our role here is to prepare our students for their future careers. So giving them as much exposure to every possibility only sets them up for success.”

For student Chanda Sanders, of Prescott, the digital field trip was a win-win. “I was a little intimidated by the technology side of it. But after you get through the nervousness of logging in and get where you’re supposed to be, I was able to get into the lesson and really learn something,” she laughs. “That was really good!”


Yavapai College operates six campuses and centers throughout Yavapai County and offers over 100 degrees and certificates, a baccalaureate degree, student and community services, and cultural events and activities.

To learn more about YC, visit www.yc.edu.
Source: Prescott News

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