Online instruction in virtual environments has an opportunity to rethink and alter traditionally problematic spatial relationships. In physical teaching spaces the spatial relationships between students, instructors and learning material are immobile and rife with challenges. Hierarchies, power dynamics and on the fly assessment are challenges, especially in traditional lecture hall spatial configurations. Students often self select a seat prescribing a specific relationship to the instructor, peers and teaching material. The specific locations of participants further impact the perception of the instructor and obscure opportunities for a direct teaching condition. This paper presents a prototype virtual learning environment developed over the last year. The prototype specifically provides a synchronous shared virtual reality for instructors, students and teaching material. The application leans into the strengths of online synchronous learning while adding an active programmatic controller that configures perceived spatial relationships among participants. Participant locations, viewpoints and assistive data display contribute to a dynamic software working to challenge the existing classroom spatial relationships. The application was funded by an internal grant at Duke University and continues to be developed. It will be presented in the larger context of learning space dynamics and early stage user testing studies.
Augustus Wendell is an Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University. Augustus completed his MFA in Computer Art at The School of Visual Arts and his undergraduate studies at Northeastern University. Augustus researches the application of computational processes to design, fine art and historical research. He has a concentration. Augustus researches the application of computational processes to design, fine art and historical research. He has a concentration in the application of image and model based workflows to aid in the s