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Virtual and Immersive Interactions

The Virtual and Immersive Interactions cluster is an interdisciplinary team of researchers and educators that integrates education, therapy, data visualization and communication in STEM, social sciences, education, humanities and the arts. In these times, it is vitally important to develop a better understanding of the applications of virtual and online technology. The strength of the cluster is grounded in the innovative structure that brings together researchers, scholars and practitioners to bridge the gap between theory and practice in these groundbreaking areas. The cluster is composed of three interrelated subcluster areas: Research, Development, and Pedagogy and Practice.

The use of virtual, mixed and immersive reality technology—or Extended Reality (XR)—is growing rapidly. In order to educate future XR content creators, however, we also need to evaluate the ways that this content will affect users. Studies of the potential impact of XR content can help us not only extend our knowledge of the ways that people are affected by these technologies, but also develop ethical guidelines for content creators. Researchers at Syracuse University are conducting interdisciplinary studies in XR content creation, application and effects. These collaborations combine expertise in specialized areas of the creation, design and analysis of XR content and relevant research methodologies (e.g., psychophysiological methods) and field-specific knowledge of different disciplines.

Data-driven design and analysis continues to prevail as a powerful influence in the decision-making process for scientists, engineers, architects, designers, content creators, educators and clinical practitioners. As the accessibility of data increases, the volume of information risks becoming so overwhelming that its significance may be lost. Accessible XR tools offer challenges and opportunities to take advantage of the new capacity to revolutionize information representation by moving away from 2D charts, diagrams and tables, and by making data spatially and temporally meaningful. Syracuse University researchers are using virtual and immersive tools to enhance and extend our capabilities in design and visualization.

Pedagogy and Practice
The rapid increase in online education has created a demand for effective virtual and immersive pedagogies (also called online, digital and computer-mediated pedagogies). Scholars and educators at Syracuse University draw on faculty expertise in instructional design, counseling and art therapies to prepare graduates to teach and practice within in-person contexts, as well as in virtual and immersive environments (e.g., tele-mental health) using cutting-edge pedagogies and practices.

There is also a growing use of XR virtual and online technology in mental health practice, such as biofeedback, desensitization or visualization, particularly as part of the treatment of trauma. The educational and clinical application subcluster will prepare future educators and mental health practitioners to engage virtual and immersive techniques in the implementation of their teaching, counseling, supervisory and creative arts therapy practices.

Scholarly and Creative Contributions
In 2019 and 2020, members of the Virtual and Immersive Interaction Cluster have produced more than two dozen publications, invited talks and creative works.

Primary Contacts

Makana Chock
Associate Professor
David J. Levidow Professor
Communications Department
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Elisa Dekaney
Professor of Music Education
Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence
Associate Dean for Research, Graduate Studies and Internationalization
College of Visual and Performing Arts and School of Education
Setnor School of Music/Teaching and Leadership

Melissa Luke
Dean’s Professor
Department of Counseling and Human Services
Associate Dean for Research, School of Education

Cluster Hire

Rochele Royster

The Virtual and Immersive Interaction cluster involves more than 34 additional faculty members and researchers from the School of Architecture, College of Arts and Sciences, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, School of Education, College of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Information Studies, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse University Libraries, Institute of Veterans and Military Families and Information Technology Services.