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Virtual darkroom becomes teaching tool

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Category: academics Video duration: Virtual darkroom becomes teaching tool
The University Libraries' Applied Research in Immersive Experiences and Simulations (ARIES) program specializes in creating virtual environments. The latest creation by ARIES is a virtual darkroom that will help teach photography students about processing film without needing to step foot inside of a physical space. 
I'm Michael Borowski, I'm an Associate Professor in the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech, and I'm working on a digital darkroom project. I was part of an immersive learning work group here on campus as faculty looking at how virtual environments can help assist their classes. And for a moment, I was thinking I was going to teach a darkroom class in the architecture program, but the darkroom was really small. And so we knew that we could only get a few students in at a time and it's a challenge. And so I started thinking about using virtual environments as a way to introduce students to the darkroom, to the environment. And then really maximize the time that they have when they do get to go into a physical space. Michael came to me with an instructional problem. And that is one of the areas where virtual reality really can contribute to education, is giving us more time to practice things that are either not possible or dangerous or expensive. And that's what ARIES does, is we build virtual reality experiences. Sometimes it's a simulation, sometimes it's a re-creation, and sometimes it's a training environment. In this case, that's what we built. This will be a chance for students to have an experience with a darkroom, learn how to use some of the equipment, and then be really prepared and ready when they go into a physical dark room in terms of what to do. I also think it really will help with teaching. And so this is a chance for everybody to have an enlarger in front of them on the screen. And as I'm pointing out, you know, what to do next, they can see in close detail what's happening. Michael's class involves lecture and involves hands-on time in the photography studio. And he hopes to one day build another darkroom to do some of these things in. Virtual reality fits into that picture in the instructional experience, much the same way as a workbook would or some other type of activity. So that's where I see VR fitting in, is as a specific activity, a test of knowledge, certification process, a simulation of the conditions in which you'll need to perform tasks.