20th July 2017
The course ran Semester 2, 2017. The research project will run for 2017, 2018 and 2019 throughout each semester.
An exciting but as yet little investigated area is the use of VR/AR for visualizing and understanding the interaction of molecules. Because we have the crystal structures of many proteins they can be visualized in various programs to research how they interact with other proteins – software often used by researchers include Pymol and Jmol. However, there are not many studies that investigate how effective VR might be in providing a deeper understanding of molecular structures, either from a research or educational perspective.
In this project, first year biology students will learn how to import proteins from the protein data base into Blender, a widely used and free animation package. Students learn some basics about texturing, lighting and animation to create their own molecular animation. Additionally, they then learn how to export their proteins into Unity, an industry standard game engine and from there, view and move proteins around in Virtual Reality using the Oculus Rift.
Students were tasked to compare standard 2D representations of their proteins with the VR experience and discuss if
This was a very exciting world-first student project that provided students with the basics of some very important digital literacy skills, which are becoming highly valued by employers. We have entered the start of an age where VR/AR will be ubiquitous and students newfound understanding of the VR workflow will give them an excellent foundation to understanding and using this technology.
We have provided similar frameworks for second and third year undergraduate units, as well as second year postgraduate units in the Science and Medicine.
We have also begun a longitudinal research project to attempt to discuss efficacy. The research will be conducted on students who take one of three courses in first, second and their year Science undergraduate course with varied cohort sizes (n= 80 to 1000). The research takes the form of semi-structured interviews and questionnaires, after students have undertaken a learning experience.
Blender, Oculus, C#, Unity
Chris’ training Video
Assessment outline - Canvas