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Virtual reality courses launched by Coursera and UoL

The online learning platform are teaming up with the University of London to launch a series of courses on virtual reality

Posted by Charley Rogers | September 23, 2017 | Higher education

Coursera, the global leader in online education and learning, has launched its first series of courses on virtual reality developed by the University of London.

The virtual reality specialisation, comprising five course modules, has been developed by Dr Sylvia Pan and Dr Marco Gillies from Goldsmiths, University of London, based on a combined 25 years’ experience in some of the world’s most prominent virtual reality research labs.

Their expertise in virtual reality centres on the generation of interactive and engaging virtual characters, one of the focus areas in the new specialisation they teach on Coursera.

“Many of the mistakes made by virtual reality content creators come from not understanding the psychology of how VR works and what it means for how we create content, which is an important feature of this specialisation,” said Dr Marco Gillies “In virtual reality, users need to physically interact so they feel present in the surrounding environment. This means other characters must respond in the same way they would in the real world. These courses combine theory - the basic psychology of how VR works - with practical production skills. All the time learners are doing the practical work, they are also having to think about the psychology behind it.” 

“Another important part of this specialisation is social VR. Social interactions in virtual reality are such a powerful experience; users are sharing the space with someone who is life-size, so the body language works in a way it doesn't on a regular screen.”

The potential for virtual reality to change the way we work, learn, and play is significant, but we need more people educated in VR technologies and design to get there. - Jessica Linda, Global Head of Education, Unity

Learners in this specialisation will get hands-on experience using many of the leading technology tools for virtual reality content development, and in particular the world-leading game development project Unity

"The potential for virtual reality to change the way we work, learn, and play is significant, but we need more people educated in VR technologies and design to get there," said Jessica Lindl, Unity's Global Head of Education. "This series of courses from the University of London is a great example of a credential that can really help anyone interested in applying virtual reality in the work that they do."

Dr Sylvia Pan, Lecturer in Graphics at Goldsmiths, University of London, said, “The launch of the virtual reality specialisation presents a real opportunity to use online learning to grow the number of people equipped with the skills required to become VR content creators. Learners will take the skills developed in each of the preceding courses and put these into practice to develop their own virtual reality game.”

“The development of virtual reality courses is pivotal to cementing the role the technology will play in everyday life and across enterprises. The creative industry has naturally become the first sector to integrate virtual reality. However, the potential applications range across many industries, including healthcare, engineering, online collaboration, and more. The medium of virtual reality is developing rapidly and those making content now are creating the fundamentals of the technology. We are really excited that our learners will be able to contribute to the future of virtual reality.”

To enrol in the virtual reality specialisation being delivered by the University of London International Programmes through Coursera, visit https://coursera.org/specializations/virtual-reality 

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