U-M launches three online courses using extended reality


The University of Michigan’s Center for Academic Innovation and Coursera have launched the first three in a set of 10 planned online learning opportunities that integrate extended-reality technologies into the learning experience.

This launch is the most comprehensive effort to harness the power of extended-reality technology to provide more immersive and impactful learning experiences at scale, said James DeVaney, the center’s founding executive director.

“These courses allow people to explore virtual environments, learn skills essential to professional success in the future of work, and practice those critical skills in an immersive setting,” he said.

“This initiative leverages our strengths in design and storytelling as we bring immersive learning to scale in the service of innovative workforce development and lifelong learning. We’re excited to expand our partnership with Coursera once again as we continue to advance the global learning skills revolution.”

The center took a deliberate approach to build these immersive learning experiences, which included an emphasis on access and inclusion. This led the center to focus the initial launches on interactive, 360-degree video and identify courses across various professional disciplines.

The video experiences are supported and accessible by desktop computers, mobile devices or headsets. No additional equipment is needed, and learners can choose the technology that is most comfortable.

The three courses teach learners professional skills in established and growing fields, including public speaking, reducing bias in health care delivery, and the future of mobility. 

The interactive videos allow learners to be immersed in a real-life scenario and practice fundamental skills in a contextualized learning environment. They also enable learners to understand learning concepts spatially and visually and explore environments that otherwise might not be accessible to them. 

Extended-reality-enhanced courses available now are:

  • “People, Technology, and the Future of Mobility,” created by Elisabeth Gerber, professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. It explores the major technological innovations in the mobility space and asks learners to consider the potential social impact of these technologies.
  • “Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Reducing Bias in Healthcare,” created by a faculty team led by Ebbin Dotson, assistant professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health. It provides interactive bias training that puts current or future health practitioners and health professionals in scenarios where they witness or experience bias in health care.
  • “Feedback Loops: Feedback Fundamentals,” created by Patrick Barry, director of digital academic initiatives and clinical assistant professor at the Law School. It teaches learners how to give and receive quality feedback.

Future courses will utilize additional aspects of extended-reality technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and virtual production, to support contextualized learning. Other XR-enhanced experiences are on track to launch in mid-2023, and the range of 10 courses will cover topics including leadership, educational course design, nursing education, mindfulness and negotiation.


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