By Kadeem Joseph
Students studying at The University of the West Indies Open Campus in Antigua and Barbuda will soon be able to participate in “more immersive” online learning experience through the use of extended reality technology.
Extended reality describes experiences that combine virtual and augmented reality technology to create both interactive and 3D engagement.
The principal of The UWI Open Campus Dr Luz Longsworth told Observer that the move which was made possible through the recently announced $25 million investment into the school’s IT infrastructure will go along way in helping students.
The grant from Silicon Valley-based company, Eon Reality, to The UWI Open Campus is the largest in decades for the university and provides a critical foundation that will support the rise of The UWI Global Campus.
Dr Longsworth said online learning is here to stay and the technology will help students in Antigua and Barbuda and across the region, since the present platform does not allow for much interactive learning.
“Now, this technology allows a student to manipulate images even on their cell phone or their tablets and even without the 3D headgear,” the educator said. “If they do have that headgear, then they can actually see the objects in 3D.”
She said the aim of the university is to make the online learning experience “richer” since student’s learning improves when multiple senses are engaged in the process of education.
Dr Longsworth said there are opportunities for cooperation between The UWI Open Campus and UWI Five Islands since the new campus has announced plans to develop a computer science and artificial intelligence.
“We expect therefore that the people of Antigua and Barbuda will have both Five Islands and Open Campus being enabled to offer this technology to them,” she added.
Dr Longsworth, who was speaking during an interview with Observer, said she expects that content using the technology will be rolled out by the end of this calendar year.
She further explained that 95 per cent of the grant funding will be used to purchase the equipment, requisite licenses, and human resource training for the extended reality (a mixture between virtual and extended reality technology) laboratory.
As part of the agreement, Eon guaranteed $19 million supplemented by a $6 million grant sourced by the university.