Virtual Reality Invites a New Era of Learning to Higher Education

A team of technology experts at the University of Maryland see an endless horizon of opportunities in education through virtual reality applications.

In a dark room at the University of Maryland (UMD) College Park, Amitabh Varshney is surrounded by a massive curved projector screen, giving an audience a glimpse of the futuristic technologies being developed by engineers.

Varshney is the director of the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. This week, he led a presentation of some of the institute’s latest developments at theAugmentarium, one of the institute’s centerpieces — a test facility for the development of virtual- and augmented-reality projects at the university.

On screen, a video filmed in 3D shows a surgeon repairing a man’s bladder. The perspective shifts between doctors, and Varshney explains how such technology, including virtual reality, will give surgical residents an invaluable learning opportunity.

«This is truly the beginning of a new era in visual communication and learning,» said Varshney. «Things are about to get very exciting in education very soon.»

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