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Rushforth Receives VR Grant

December 20, 2018

Dr. Michael Rushforth, UTSA Senior Lecturer in Spanish, has been awarded a $12,600 grant from the UTSA Office of Information Technology to research the effectiveness of using virtual reality (VR) in the classroom.  The grant will fund virtual reality headsets for the department computer lab that students will use for culture-focused assignments in their introductory Spanish classes, allowing them to take virtual tours of culturally significant sites in Spanish-speaking countries, such as El Zócalo in Mexico City, El Escorial in Spain, and La Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.  Students will be assigned pre and post reading and writing activities that will guide them to use their language skills at the same time they are gaining a greater understanding of what those sites mean in the broader culture of their home countries.

Rushforth also hopes to explore other applications of VR that are emerging in the area of language instruction -- simulated conversation partners, immersive training environments for interpreters, etc. Having the equipment in place will allow the UTSA Department of Modern Languages and Literatures to be at the forefront of developing innovative programs for language learning.

Students in Rushforth's introductory Spanish classes have been experimenting with virtual reality for several years.  His classroom was featured on Kens5 News and UTSA Today in the spring of 2017.

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