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For Immediate Release
September 5, 2019

Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? … It’s Virtual Reality!

Virtual reality (VR) applications and headsets are the newest tools for curious students and professors at the Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus’ Montaukett Learning Resource Center.

From practicing speaking in public before a stadium audience to studying microscopic organisms, flying a plane, taking a virtual walk through an artist’s masterpiece or exploring the depths of the world’s oceans, students and professors are taking advantage of technology to experiment with augmented reality in learning and teaching.

Suffolk County Community College Interim College President Louis Petrizzo said the introduction of VR is a natural for the college. “Virtual reality, cybersecurity, wind energy, electric vehicles. Suffolk County Community College is providing a wide array of opportunities for students in emerging technologies,” Petrizzo said.

“Our goal,” said Head Librarian Dana Antonucci-Durgan, “is to push technology forward to the campus through the library lending model so that faculty and students can use it to enhance learning.”   Antonucci-Durgan said the college was awarded a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant in 2014 that funded the initial makerspace technology which included 3D printers and video equipment.  Virtual reality technology was the next level of expansion for the makerspace. 

Librarian Fabio Montella helps students and professors learn about and find applications that can be used to engage students and facilitate learning in new ways.

“It’s not just gaming,” said Visual Arts Professor Meredith Starr. “It’s a very important learning tool that jumpstarts thinking and expression.”

Starr said the technology helped her Modern Art History students rediscover techniques of Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh’s The Night Café (sample: they might not have seen in a casual in person review of the masterpiece.  “The technology has brought the students an understanding of the artist’s intent and concept in a new, immersive and exciting way,” Starr said.

Starr has also incorporated the technology into her drawing classes, with students working collaboratively on virtual drawings and has also touched on using the tech to highlight social issues important to students. In her design classes students are using virtual reality to create three dimensional plans for site specific artworks. Using the technology not only helps the students realize the potential of their ideas, it is helping them recognize the important role virtual reality will have in their future careers. 

Professors Antonucci-Durgan and Montella said students are encouraged to visit the library and experience the equipment.

And Professor Starr? She’s on sabbatical to learn to program VR apps. Her goal? Making a VR app about plastics in the ocean.