Academic Technologies & Innovation (ATI) and Extended Reality for Learning (xREAL) Lab with Information Technology Services (ITS) at Cal State San Bernardino have partnered up to highlight one of many projects designed to help the campus connect in a post-pandemic world.

In this edition of ATI News Packages, video production student assistant Patrick Klein interviewed 3D artist JC Mariscal, a student assistant at xREAL, to learn about Mariscal’s work recreating the Indian Wells Theater, located at CSUSB’s Palm Desert Campus, in virtual reality (VR).

“People who attend these types of events can actually just go in there and see whatever it is that they’re going to perform,” said Mariscal.

“This is going to be a very accessible way to experience these events,” added Klein.

This is only one of xREAL’s projects that utilizes a similar immersive media approach to provide an accessible way to attend events virtually.

Mariscal also worked on the Black History Virtual SMSU Exhibit. The exhibit was done through the VR platform Mozilla Hubs, which Mariscal describes as “one of the more accessible platforms that you can do something on.”

Guests can experience the 3D virtual exhibit on their phones, computers or with a VR headset, and learn about some of history’s Black innovators. In this truly immersive experience, guests can even meet virtually and have conversations in real-time.

“What the pandemic taught us is that digital meeting places have a wide reach and can bring lots of people together if we can figure out ways to make people interact better in a distance learning format,” said Mihaela Popescu, the faculty director of xREAL and CSUSB professor of communication studies.We have to reimagine how we design realistic interactions: not just interactions with a flat-screen but experiences that can create a genuine sense of connecting socially and even a feeling of embodiment.”

“The cross-platform virtual spaces that we are designing in our lab can combine the best elements of face-to-face and online interaction, while also bringing the main campus and PDC together in a more organic way,” she said.

ATI News Packages were created for the purpose of informing the CSUSB community and all others interested in the services provided by ATI. Future news packages by ATI and xREAL will showcase faculty, students, services and projects.

About ATI: Academic Technologies & Innovation (ATI) is a department within Information Technology Services at California State University, San Bernardino. Our highly qualified and experienced specialists design inclusive, pedagogically sound, and technology-enhanced environments that empower faculty to achieve their instructional goals.

About xREAL: Extended Reality for Learning Lab with Information Technology Services at CSUSB is an interdisciplinary technology innovation hub that brings together faculty, students and staff to imagine and design immersive learning experiences with 3D modeling and printing, augmented reality, mixed reality, virtual reality, motion caption and machine learning technologies. Each year, xREAL works with faculty fellows and undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines to provide a vision for future teaching and learning, mentorship and hands-on experience for the students, and sustainable innovation for the larger campus community.