Mixed, Augmented, Virtual Realities (MAVR) SIG: Significance and Potential Contribution

Mehrasa Alizadeh, Josh Brunotte, Chris Hastings, Eric Hawkinson, Parisa Mehran

As we continue to increase the amount of digital integration we provide our bodies and brains, the nature of reality and the value of traditional education come into question. Virtual Reality (VR) puts human consciousness inside digital content. Augmented reality (AR) brings digital content to everything physical around us. Just as mobile learning has changed the paradigm from computer assisted learning by putting the Internet into our pockets, AR and VR take that content out of our pockets and put it into undeniable ubiquity, meaning we have digital content connected to everything around us, from desks, to people, to moods. AR and VR also give us the ability to customize content based on data about the learner and physical surroundings. This is forcing our SIG members to challenge some traditional approaches to teaching and learning when implementing these tools and ideas. Our group created MAVR to bring our efforts towards these issues to the JALT community in the hopes of integrating our approaches with other SIGs in the organization.

The Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Reality (MAVR) SIG is JALT’s newest SIG. It was formed by a dedicated group of researchers who are passionate about exploring and furthering research related to augmenting learning processes with ubiquitous technology. It should be known, however, that MAVR research is about much more than just emerging technology. It is also about the approaches to the design of learning that employ these technologies. MAVR learning environments push for just-in-time information delivery and seek to adapt the environment to the needs of learners. While augmented and virtual technologies are not new, they are evolving and integrating themselves into all facets of our lives. Current MAVR members are developers and designers in addition to researchers who create tools and environments to enhance and facilitate learning. In doing this we have found, as have other researchers around the world, that AR pushes users to go out of the classroom and explore, and VR takes learners to new forms of classrooms. 

MAVR Contribution

As our SIG is new and thus still relatively small in member size, the amount of engagement in our group is very high. Since we started, here are just some of the contributions and plans for the rest of the year: 

  • Gifu JALT chapter workshop (March 18th, 2017) - Applications and Task Development for Smartphone VR in the EL Classroom: An Overview (Josh Brunotte & Chris Hastings)
  • AR Rally Fukuchiyama (April 7th, 2017) - Innovative large scale community engagement project
  • ACTC (Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom) (May 13th, 2017) Mixed Reality Gaming Session
  • PAN SIG (May 20th, 2017) Augmented Reality Design Principles for Informal Learning; MAVR (Mixed Augmented Virtual Realities): The Future or a Fad? 
  • JALT CALL (June 17th-18th, 2017) - Reducing Study Abroad Anxiety Through Smartphone Virtual Reality (Chris Hastings & Josh Brunotte)
  • GLOSITH (Global Congress on Special Interest Tourism and Hospitality)  (June 24th-25th 2017) Augmenting Tourism: Augmented Reality Design Principles for Tourism Application
  • Toyohashi JALT Chapter workshop (July 16th, 2017) - Low-cost Smartphone Virtual Reality Headsets for English Language Learners - An exploratory and practical workshop (Chris Hastings & Josh Brunotte)
  • UCEC (University-Community Engagement Conference) (September 24th-26th, 2017) Massive Mixed Reality Community Engagement
  • JALT2017 (November 17th-20th, 2017)  MAVR SIG Forum

As a forming SIG we are focused mainly on the dissemination of information in our field. We raise awareness of the issues of prominence in our field of research by hosting professional events and providing publishing opportunities for our members. We are always looking to find new members to further the discussion and innovation. And with the nature of mixed, augmented, and virtual realities, we are able to create chances for attendees to gain hands-on experience with this technology, and enjoy themselves while they do it. 

MAVR Community

MAVR is active on several online platforms because we want to provide multiple ways for members and people who are thinking about becoming members to connect, communicate and learn. Check out our website https://sites.google.com/view/mavrsig to get basic information about the SIG such as our mission, upcoming events, and publications. Our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/JALTMAVR/ is a public group where anyone can share articles that might be of interest to SIG members and non-members alike. For our members, there is a private Google Group where you can get involved in research projects and access a variety of AR/VR related resources. MAVR now has a Podcast which you can access here: https://soundcloud.com/jaltmavr.

Authors, in alphabetical order: Mehrasa Alizadeh, Josh Brunotte, Chris Hastings, Eric Hawkinson,  Parisa Mehran