Gerber creates XR-enhanced online course on Future of Mobility

February 9, 2023

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. 

Extended reality-enhanced courses available now are "People, Technology, and the Future of Mobility," "Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Reducing Bias in Healthcare," and "Feedback Loops: Feedback Fundamentals" within the multicourse series "Feedback Loops: How to Give and Receive High-Quality Feedback." 

Elisabeth Gerber, professor of public policy at U-M's Ford School of Public Policy, created the "Future of Mobility" course, which explores the major technological innovations in the mobility space and asks learners to consider the potential social impact of these technologies.

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"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," DeVaney 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 video and identify courses across various professional disciplines. 

The 360 video experiences are supported and accessible by desktop, mobile device or headset. 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 360 videos allow learners to be immersed in a real-life scenario and practice fundamental skills in a contextualized learning environment. It also enables learners to understand learning concepts spatially and visually and explore environments that otherwise might not be accessible to them.  

A faculty team led by Ebbin Dotson, assistant professor of health management and policy at the U-M School of Public Health, created the "Advancing Health Equity" course. It provides interactive bias training that puts learners—current or future health practitioners and health professionals—in scenarios where they witness or experience bias in health care. 

"Feedback Loops" is the latest course series from Patrick Barry, director of digital academic initiatives and clinical assistant professor at the Law School. Barry teaches learners how to give and receive quality feedback. In addition, learners can select from several physical settings and speech styles to practice the art and rhythms of giving a short speech. 

"Watching the final version of the XR 360 case was amazing," Dotson said. "The actors were great, the writing was clear and impactful, and XR enhanced a number of the behavior nuances that are impossible to teach in a traditional mode of instruction." 

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 currently 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. 

This article was written by Fernanda Pires of Michigan News and Sean Corp of the Center for Academic Innovation.