XR Initiative funds 13 new extended reality projects


The University of Michigan’s XR Initiative is funding 13 new XR Innovation projects that work with faculty to develop course content using commercially available extended reality authoring platforms.

Projects will be funded through the XR Innovation Fund and include experiences focused on architectural design, language instruction, supporting medical and nursing training, and diversity, equity and accessibility issues in the XR space. 

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After funding eight projects in 2020, the initiative will be able to support more projects by using existing platforms that don’t require custom programming, XR Initiative Director Jeremy Nelson said.

“There are so many ways XR can support and enhance teaching and learning, and our faculty are coming to the table with amazing ideas. We believe it is important to plant as many seeds as we can across different programs to foster that innovation and sense of community,” Nelson said.

Projects receive awards ranging from $2,500 to $15,000 and provide faculty with access to 360-degree cameras, production equipment, access to XR authoring platforms and in-kind support for project management and learning experience design from the Center for Academic Innovation.

While the 2020 projects are ongoing, the XR Initiative, housed in the Center for Academic Innovation, will be supporting 21 projects from 10 schools and colleges. The center will provide in-kind learning experience designers and media design production capabilities in addition to direct grant funding.

Schools and colleges with projects being funded in 2021 are:


  • Enhancing English for Academic Purposes: Learning and Instruction Through Immersive and Interactive XR Experiences — Katie Coleman, lecturer II in English Language Institute.
  • A River Runs Through It and So Can You! — Aline Cotel, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, and associate professor of Program in the Environment in LSA.
  • XR Exploration of Geologic Features in Field Excursions — Kyger Lohmann, professor of earth and environmental sciences.
  • Virtual Interactions in Seoul — Soyeon Kim, director of Korean Language Program.

A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

  • Bridge the Gap Between Digital Design and Physical Construction in Architecture Education with XR — Arash Adel, associate professor of architecture and urban planning.
  • Immersive Material — Laida Aguirre, associate professor of architecture and urban planning.
  • Fully 3D — Matias del Campo, associate professor of architecture.

School of Nursing

  • Transforming Nursing Education with VR Platforms — Deb Lee, clinical assistant professor of nursing.
  • Cultivating Leadership Competency Through XR — Barbara Medvec, clinical assistant professor of nursing.

Medical School

  • Radiation Protection Training Using Realistic XR — Kim Kearfott, professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences in CoE, professor of radiology in the Medical School.
  • Teaching the Difficult Airway Algorithm Using 360-Degree Video Immersion — Raza Zaidi, assistant professor of anesthesiology.

School for Environment and Sustainability

  • Multi-Sensory 360-Degree Videos for Sustainability Education — Mark Lindquist, assistant professor of landscape architecture.

School of Social Work

  • Digital Brave Spaces — Larry Gant, diversity, equity and inclusion program director and professor of social work in the School of Social Work, and professor of art and design in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design.

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