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Sydney Uni Opens Australia’s Largest VR Lab

The University of Sydney has launched a new virtual reality lab that will provide students with unique interactive educational experiences.

Using 26 Oculus Rift VR headsets paired with high-powered PCs – more than any other educational institution – the Immersive Learning Laboratory is will be used by 12 academics across the university’s faculties this semester.

Over 700 students are expected to use virtual reality to explore villages in Niger, the Great Barrier Reef, the solar system, and other 360-degree content.

“Virtual reality technology has revolutionised education opportunities by allowing students to experience and interact with new and diverse environments,” said Immersive Learning Laboratory project team member and Humanitarian Engineering lecturer Dr Jacqueline Thomas.

Dr Thomas said that the virtual reality technology will allow academics to ‘show’ what it is like to work in the field to students rather than ‘tell’.

“At the University of Sydney, we are utilising this technology to give our students virtual access to areas they would not normally be able to access. For example, many environments in which professional engineers and scientists work are restricted to students, due to safety and logistical constraints,” Dr Thomas said.

Academics and students from the University of Sydney’s faculties of Engineering and Information Technologies, Science, Arts and Social Sciences, and the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning will use the lab this semester, with additional faculties expected to come on board next year.

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