How Shared VR And Immersive Tech Became The Centerpiece Technology In A University’s New Digital Scholarship Lab

In 2018, Michigan State University built a state-of-the-art Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL). The 10,000 sq. ft. facility was designed to bring students and faculty across campus into a central hub. It would give everyone on-campus access to high-grade technology, co-working spaces and extended working hours. As its centerpiece, the DSL featured an Igloo Shared Virtual Reality cylinder — a 360° immersive projection environment.

Michigan State University (MSU) is one of the top research universities in the world. It pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve global challenges while providing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community. MSU is also the first university in the United States to permanently install an Igloo Shared VR cylinder.

While MSU had already provided some high-spec digital and technology facilities, these had not always been readily accessible. Some were spread across campus. Some were restricted to certain departments. Others had limited opening hours. Students had an enormous interest in digital scholarship and immersive technology, but nowhere to follow through. The DSL was proposed to provide workstations and high-end technology all in one space. It could be open late hours to reflect the realities of student life, and available for all students and faculty across disciplines.

As part of the DSL, MSU envisioned the use of immersive displays. It wanted a showpiece technology. Something to encourage students to make use of something they’d never had before. It decided on Igloo Shared VR technology.

In the two years since installation, MSU has found that, by making this technology available, its faculty and the bright young minds of its students have been able to find countless uses for Shared VR.

  • History & religious studies classes using Google Earth to explore architecture and sites from around the world in 360°.
  • Art history & archaeology classes can engage in the process of an archaeological dig.
  • Interior designers and landscape architecture students bringing their designs to life.
  • Game developers can develop and display their video games in a fully immersive environment (the Igloo is able to run both the Unity and Unreal game engines).
  • Immersive art, combining the emotional impact of an exhibit with the immersion of 360° films.

It only continues to find new and innovative uses for Shared VR and immersive tech. Lately, with the Covid-19 crisis, MSU has been looking into hosting remote seminars and classes centered in its Igloo cylinder and broadcast live to students.

Igloo Vision has compiled a full case study on how MSU’s students and faculty have made use of immersive technology since its introduction into the DLS. The case study Using Shared VR and immersive tech as a centerpiece of a new Digital Scholarship Lab is available here.