(From left to right: Colin Minarik, Alden Shoemaker, Vinny Paratore,
Andre Noonan, Lucas Fernandez de Assis)
Bentley University, in Waltham, Massachusetts, serves over 5,000 students across a wide variety of degrees, both undergraduate and graduate. For those in Computer Information Systems (CIS) or Information Technology (IT) courses, the CIS Sandbox is there as a social learning space for students to prepare for their coursework, as well as life beyond university.
Opened in 2011 by Professor Mark Frydenberg, the Sandbox provides:
- Peer-led tutoring services plus online resources for students in CIS and Information Technology (IT) courses
- Cutting-edge tech educational events for students and campus partners
- A community formed of CIS students, faculty, alumni and staff
It also focuses on fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in its students through supporting requests for programmes, equipment, and activities suggested by CIS student tutors.
One such programme was the introduction of Bodyswaps to the Sandbox, facilitated by Prof. Frydenberg. The CIS Sandbox received 15 Meta Quest headsets and 6 weeks' access to the Bodyswaps library as part of a research project. And while they were supported in onboarding by our Senior Account Executive, Tylar Nicklis, the students were the driving force behind the programme's deployment, learning the set up and organising and leading sessions for students and faculty alike.
A range of staff and students had the chance to use Bodyswaps, beyond just CIS and IT students, with attendees from Career Services, Accounting and Law courses, and from Learning Design and Academic Technology.
We had the chance to interview five of the students who took part in the deployment of this programme: Vinny Paratore, Colin Minarik, Alden Shoemaker, Andre Noonan, and Cole Duval, as well as Prof. Frydenberg. Read on to discover how these students - supported by other CIS student tutors - deployed Bodyswaps, with some top tips at the end.
Preparation and Set Up
Vinny, VR Manager, created the project plan for this programme, coordinating and organising the deployment.
Professor Mark Frydenberg
Vinny also coordinated the preparation and set up of the programme, with support from Andre, and Cole aided in setting up headsets in preparation for the sessions. The Meta mobile device management software was also set up to help monitor and connect the headsets.
Deployment and Leading Sessions
Many of the student tutors led sessions; Colin and Alden, who led a great amount, gave us feedback on their experience leading sessions and utilising Bodyswaps Go, our learner management and performance monitoring software.
During their sessions, Colin and Alden closely monitored how users in Bodyswaps reacted and interacted, and they actively sought feedback. Colin recalled a specific Friday morning session when he noticed that the students using the Bodyswaps modules were pleasantly surprised as the experience differed from their expectations or previous encounters with VR. Despite the surprise, they also expressed a strong liking for it
Top Tips for Student Champions
- “Learn as much as you can [about Bodyswaps Go] because that's going to be a great help.” Andre
- And stemming from that, Andre advises to take full advantage of any screens you may have and use the QR code functionality from Bodyswaps Go. This QR code allows learners to enrol themselves in a class without manual work from session leaders or facilitators. In the Sandbox, they’ve got screens everywhere and by showing the QR code on these, learners could set themselves up.
- “For schools who are just getting into VR, first working with Bodyswaps, definitely do a couple trial runs.” Colin
- Don’t jump into full sessions right away - do small groups of three or four at once to test all the equipment is working and troubleshoot any potential hurdles, before expanding to the larger groups.
- “Label everything and buy lots of batteries!” Prof. Frydenberg
For Andre, the breadth of Bodyswaps modules, making them relevant for not only students but staff too, was a particular highlight of utilising Bodyswaps.
And Alden, who had the opportunity to try out some of our employability modules himself, enjoyed the experience. But a particular highlight for him was watching as learners in his sessions came out of their shells while in the headsets:
“When they started off, they seemed a little bit hesitant - kind of mumbling into the headsets, not really wanting to speak out their answers, like they were afraid that other people were listening. But then it seemed like the more that they went along with it, the more willing they were to participate with the activities like speak confidently, stand up and power pose.”