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Monday, July 20, 2020

Grant: LBS faculty boosts virtual reality research with $234,000 - ITREALMS

ITREALMS
Nigeria-based Lagos Business School (LBS) through its faculty, has gotten a boost with a grant of $234,000, about N90,675,000.00 million, from Templeton World Charity Foundation(TWCF) Inc to conduct a two-year virtual reality research, reports ITREALMS.

Virtual reality, ITREALMS gathered, is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality can include entertainment and educational purposes. Even as VR is promises to be the biggest thing after the internet.

Sources close to faculty, informed ITREALMS that the research project would centre on “Teaching Children Empathy and Compassion through Virtual Reality Games” and expected to explore the potentials of virtual reality (VR) for character development.

ITREALMS equally gathered that the grant was awarded under TWCF’s Global Innovations for Character Development (GICD) initiative.

Confirming this, Dr Eugene Ohu, who runs a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab at Lagos Business School, where he explores the implications of the immersive, interactive and perspective-taking characteristics of technologies like computers, mobile devices and virtual reality (VR) for character development, learning, behaviour modification, wellbeing and productivity, disclosed that the grant is a two year intervention.

According to him, the TWCF funded two-year intervention and research project will seek ways to grow the character traits of empathy and compassion in a diverse society like Nigeria, where there are multiple expressions of religious, cultural, social and economic identities.

Focus of the project, he said, would be initially for group of teenagers, who make up over 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population, as the study is expected to explore the perspective-taking capabilities of VR to increase understanding for the identities of others different from ourselves.

“It will be an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience where teenagers take the perspectives of ethnic groups different from theirs, to appreciate their identity and share in their sufferings. We also hope to train teachers at the study schools on the new VR teaching models, so as to incorporate them into the Civics and Social Studies curriculum of secondary schools,” he said.

Immersive VR, he also said, is computer-generated environment where users experience a digital version of the real world where they could interact with objects and other people, which offer an opportunity to create a more personalised and engaging experience for learners.

“Although VR is fun, my research collaborators and I have broader and more ambitious goals which should see a greater deployment of VR in teaching, learning and development at all stages of a person’s life. I particularly want to see it deployed as a complementary learning resource in training at the Lagos Business School,” Ohu said.

Further, ITREALMS gathered that other collaborators in the project include Judith Okonkwo, founder of Imisi3D, an Extended Reality creation lab in Yaba, Lagos, and Prof. Karen Schrier, a digital games expert at Marist College, United States of America (USA).

ITREALMS recalls that Lagos Business School is the graduate business school of Pan-Atlantic University, owned by the Pan-Atlantic University Foundation, a non-profit foundation registered in Nigeria. Precisely, LBS was founded on inspirations from the teachings of St Josemaria Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei.

*Chuks Egbune/DoP

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Pix: Dr Eugene Ohu, a faculty at Lagos Business School (LBS)

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