Research plays an important role at the Virtual Reality Learning Lab. Our research focuses on potential use cases of VR & AR for teaching and training, but also more fundamentally on how these new human-computer interfaces can change the ways humans solve problems.
Together with students we build prototypes, run small experiments and do more theoretical, philosophical research.
Our research is mostly funded with our commercial activities. Robin is a guest PhD researcher at the Media Technology group at Leiden University, supervised by prof. dr. Bas Haring. He teaches courses at Leiden University and Tilburg University. We share our research output during symposia and on our research blog, following the Open Science movement.
Are you interested in some research we haven’t published yet? Or do you want to collaborate? Feel free to contact us!
By: Robin de Lange
Inspired by the Open science movement, among which this Open Kitchen Science approach, I’ve decided to join this movement and find a fitting open approach for the research we do. In this article I explain the motivation behind this decision and give you some background on our research.
I’m a guest PhD researcher at the Media Technology group at Leiden University, which means I have no paid appointment. Prof. dr. Bas Haring is my promotor. In the first year of my research I’ve been lucky enough to receive a small grant from LUF and the Gratama foundation. Moreover, the university pays me for the Honours Class I teach and the occasional guest lecture.
Besides this, my research is funded by the commercial services we offer with the Virtual Reality Learning Lab, which mostly consists of professional courses. Here we share the knowledge we’ve gained in our research in forms that are actually helpful for our clients. Our clients include schools, teachers (from primary school to University), educational publishers, professional training institutions, libraries and other organisations.
The VR Learning Lab collaborated on a project initiated by dr. Marie Postma and her colleagues at Tilburg University. Last week it was announced that this project will receive a NRO Comenius Senior Fellow grant! Here you can find the news item post on the website of Tilburg University.
The challenge of the project is to create a few Virtual and Augmented Reality learning experiences that help students understanding challenging topics within the curriculum of the Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence tracks. Our role in this project is to organize professional training for the involved teachers, researchers, and programmers and to help with the development of the educational innovations. A very interesting challenge, which you will definitely read more about on our website during the following years.
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Wearing a VR headset is often seen as a rather individual experience. And indeed, the immersiveness of the experience tends to seclude you from your environment and the people surrounding you. However, there are also different, exciting forms of collaboration in Virtual Reality. Some of these can be very interesting for collaborative learning, or for solving complex problems together. In this article we’ll discuss a few interesting projects, some of which are focused on local collaboration.
On October the 11th 2017, the new edition of the Honours Class Learning through Virtual Reality will start! The course is primarily meant for bachelor students who follow an honours track at Leiden University. However, the Honours Academy allows for a few master students each year, which can be specifically interesting for Media Technology students. Please notice however that honours classes are extracurricular and cannot be counted as an elective course. They will be mentioned on your diploma though.
Bachelor students from Leiden University can register for the course on this page, master students on this page. Are you a student from another university? Please contact us, perhaps we can arrange something.
On the 28th of June 2017, Robin was asked to present a pitch to 700 visitors at the Onderzoeksconferentie (“Research Conference”), organised by Kennisnet and the NRO. Below, you can view a picture of Robin presenting and see slides of the presentation.
On June 7th, LiketoShare will organize the “Learning with VR” convention. There, Robin will provide a lecture on experimenting with Virtual Reality in higher education. What feasible ways are available to start an experiment? And how do you involve students with this process?
We expect it to be an educational day, with many intriguing visitors!
Kennisnet is organizing their yearly Onderzoeksconferentie (“Research Conference”) on the 28th of June 2017. Here, Robin will present a pitch of his research on Virtual Reality in education.
A short article is already available on their website. Will we see you at the conference?
Commissioned by the Netherlands Initiative for Educational Research (NRO), we have performed an extensive literary study on the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in primary education. The petitioner – the administration of a significant comprehensive school – provided the NRO Kennisrotonde with the following question:
What do we know about the use and effectiveness of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality when applied to primary education?
We finished an English translation of the report, which can be downloaded here.
At this time, it is too early to draw any concrete conclusions in regard to the effectiveness of VR or AR in education. However, responses of those who study VR and / or AR in the educational field appear to be positive, as both technologies are expected to be able to provide new ways to educate and learn. The biggest challenge lies in the development of quality content that is both educational and compatible with educational programs.
While solid research on the effectiveness of VR as an educational tool is available, these cases discuss the use of “screen-based VR”, a form of VR that does not utilize a headset, but a monitor. Our study, however, focuses solely on HMD-based (Head Mounted Display) Virtual Reality (which does utilize a headset) as we consider this form to be most commonly associated with VR.
Throughout the Netherlands, different events focusing on the use of Virtual Reality in libraries are being organized: lectures on VR, demonstrations of the Oculus Rift and even making your own Google Cardboard headset, to name but a few. I support these efforts, as I consider the library to be an excellent environment to help people familiarize themselves with a new medium. Simultaneously, Virtual- and Augmented Reality could become useful for libraries in the nearby future. For example, AR could be used to enrich the library, while VR could provide an alternative method of exploring digital collections.
In this post, I will discuss several projects (both old and recent) we conducted with a number of libraries.
De Gele Ballon in Virtual Reality
Commissioned by the Gelderland-Zuid library, I developed a Virtual Reality “lookbook” with Donna Schipper, inspired by the well-known picture book “The Yellow Balloon” by Charlotte Dematons. In our experience, Virtual Reality was a great way to search for different objects in a virtual environment. We enjoyed development of this small but amusing project! Currently, the Gear VR-based app is only available through contact with the Gelderland-Zuid library.
Psychology researchers often require participants to be in a certain emotional state. The Focus on Emotions group does research into effective anger management and needed a way to induce anger in children in a reliable and ethical manner. Motivated by the emotional effects Virtual Reality experiences, they asked Media Technology students to create a project.
Project Anger Induction is a Virtual Reality experience that aims to induce anger in children. The Gear VR / Google Cardboard app allows users to play an enjoyable game with Jasper, our digital avatar. While he might seem like a nice, cooperative boy at first, Jasper’s true nature – a rather annoying one – shows itself over time. Through the use of Jasper, we hope to see to what extent Virtual Reality can be used to create a sense of social anger.
This project was created by the Media Technology students Nesse van der Meer and Pieter Rohrbach in cooperation with Marieke Bos and Carolien Rieffe from the research group Focus on Emotions. Robin de Lange was the supervisor of the project.
Tonight SURF will officially release their ‘Trendrapport 2016’ at the preconference of the Onderwijsdagen. Robin was honored to be the author of the chapter on Virtual Reality, together with Lieke Rensink and Jan-Paul van Staalduinen. You can download the Dutch Trendrapport here, the English version will follow in the next few weeks.
Tomorrow, on the 8th of November, Robin will give a lecture on VR & education at the same Onderwijsdagen. On both days, the DinoZapp team will be present to show the Virtual Reality game they made in collaboration with Naturalis.
As part of the Virtual Reality for Science & Education course, the student team consisting of Gosse Mol, Roos Hoefnagel and Han Lie collaborated with Naturalis and created DinoZapp. This video shows a preview of the first prototype:
For my current research I broadly explore the potential of Virtual Reality for education. As a part of this I try to form some sort of theoretical framework to describe the unique characteristics of VR as a medium and how it can be used to explain complex concepts and teach different skills.
With some googling you can find quite a few articles (both academic, popular and in-between) that describe the various ways VR could be used in education. There are even a few listicles out there, to use the parlance of our times. Now, who can resist the simplicity of a 5 point overview of this new medium and its role in learning?
I do research on the potential of Virtual Reality for education. Now, people generally find VR very exciting and because of this I get a lot of enthusiastic reactions. People can imagine all sorts of useful applications for education. Students could learn about our solar system while experiencing a space flight, or walk through ancient Rome and learn about its history.
Of course, I also receive a lot of reactions that are more critical of VR as a learning tool. We are at a point in time where there’s hardly any decisive research about learning performances in Virtual Reality. We don’t even know yet whether people will buy VR headsets. Shouldn’t we wait for these kinds of things before we invest in hardware and educational VR content? VR has been a hype before, can the technology deliver the promises that are being made?
On the 10th of March 2016 we organized the Virtual Reality for Science & Education symposium at the Scheltema Complex in Leiden. I think we can safely state the event was a great success!
Over 125 people attended the event, causing a small shortage of chairs at the busiest time of the symposium. I have seen many familiar faces, but also met a lot of interesting new people. The list of attendees included researchers, professors, high school teachers, entrepreneurs, Virtual Reality developers, policy makers and artists. I think this mix of people led to very interesting discussions, thank you all very much for your input!
During the past year I have spoken with a lot of people about the use of Virtual Reality for learning, which is the topic of my research. Surprisingly many people are really excited about this. But why is this? Why are people enthusiastic about VR in education?
Updates about the program below!
During the last few years developments in Virtual Reality have gained a lot of momentum. Almost two decades after the inevitable downfall in the hype cycle, the Oculus Rift showed that a VR headset is within reach for the average consumer. This kickstarted many new initiatives, causing an entire VR ecosystem to emerge, with small start-ups and massive corporations creating new headsets, innovative input devices, spherical cameras and loads of immersive content.
These developments open many possibilities for research and education. Realistic simulations allow police officers to safely train dangerous situations. 3D visualizations can help the design process by allowing the user to walk around in buildings that have not been built yet. But we can also think of immersive data visualizations which can be navigated spatially. Psychology researchers can use VR to measure responses to realistic environments and scenarios. Lectures about ancient Rome could be given while walking past the Colosseum and virtual classrooms could make following a MOOC into a more intense and social experience.
To explore the possibilities of this new medium, we organize the symposium ‘Virtual Reality for Science & Education‘ on the 10th of March 2016. The symposium will start at 13:30 at the Scheltema complex in Leiden. Around 17:30 we will end the day with some drinks and Virtual Reality demonstrations.
The plenary program will have speakers from different backgrounds: Virtual Reality developers, scientists who use VR in their research and educators who experiment with VR in the classroom.
In May 2015 the Gratama Stichting and Leids Universiteitsfonds announced that my research project into the possibilities of Virtual Reality for the field of education will receive the Gratama research grant. Prof. dr. Jaap van den Herik helped me with the application procedure, the research will be part of my PhD work supervised by prof. dr. Bas Haring.
The research project includes an elective course where 30 students will explore the potential of Virtual Reality for science and education by creating experimental VR prototypes. More details about the course in the e-Studiegids.
On March 24th 2015 I gave a talk at the Art of Neuroscience symposium in the beautiful Eye in Amsterdam. More information about this yearly event can be found here.
In my talk I presented the Virtual Reality visualization of live EEG data I created with my team mates Eva Delincakova and Bert Spaan at the Hack the Brain hackathon in May 2014. I discussed the potential of Virtual Reality for immersive data visualization and how this could be used in the field of education.
On the 19th of June 2014 at 10.00, I’ll teach a workshop for the Embodied Vision course of the Media Technology MSc. program. Below you can find a short description of the workshop and the assignment. After the workshop I’ll post a summary of what we’ve discussed.
Embodied Vision Workshop: Augmented and Virtual Reality with Unity3D
In this workshop we will go through the basics of working with Unity3D, discuss interesting projects made with the software and experiment with creating your own Augmented or Virtual Reality project. I will explain about the Vuforia library which can be used to create mobile AR apps and get you started to develop for Oculus Rift. For the workshop you will need Unity Pro which can be downloaded from unity3d.com. Please install the software beforehand. You can make use of the 30-day trial version.
Groups: 1-3 people
During the lectures you have learned about many different special and visual effects used in film and the different goals (such as: distraction, shock, spectacle, narrative, integration, immersion) that can be reached by applying these effects. For this assignment you are challenged to make use of the visual effects offered by Augmented and Virtual Reality to support one (or more) of these goals you find most interesting.
Since learning Unity3D is an essential part of this workshop, you should make use of this software for your project. Exceptions can be made however, if you can give good reasons for this.
On the 28th of August 2013 I defended my graduation project:
Developing an Augmented Reality application to promote an extended concept of cognition in education
The ever decreasing size and price of computer parts seems to be leading to computing power becoming ubiquitous. Similar to technology such as pen and paper, computing power becomes intertwined with our problem solving processes in such ways that it becomes invisible. This development has, and will have, enormous influence on our cognitive profiles. The field of education however, has barely changed to cope with this change in cognitive profiles. While developments in information technologies are changing how we learn in many ways, we believe it is essential to rethink what we should learn in this perspective of increasing availability and accessibility of computing power.
This research reviews an extended concept of cognition, in which technological elements can actually be part of the cognitive process. We suggest this view as a framework to discuss the goals of education and the technological aids that can be used to reach these goals. To raise this discussion, a mobile application is developed which shows the potential of Augmented Reality techniques to display context-sensitive information, which can be incorporated in the problem solving process.