Media: Canada Media Fund Blog

From the Canada Media Fund blog, check out the latest write-up of my research and design work as part of my PhD at the University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education on multiplayer, social virtual reality for learning about gender and sexuality. Thanks to my collaborators on this project: Scout Windsor, John Craig, and Pratim Sengupta.

This project started at the beginning of 2018 and we all learned so much from the design process as well as from showing it to people at various science, technology, and arts events.

We were fairly new to VR design at the time, and wanted to challenge ourselves to design everything ourselves. The design is grounded in the Learning Sciences. All assets were made in VR using Medium and some Google Tilt Brush, and we programmed the multiplayer from scratch.

It was a steep learning curve, but we pulled it together in 4 months around school and jobs. Things we thought would be easy, were hard. Things we thought would be hard, were really hard. lol I’m super proud of our team! 

Body, Avatar and Gender in Virtual Reality [in English]

Corps, avatar et genre en réalité virtuelle [in French]

Now Online: “Queering Virtual Reality: A Prolegomenon”

Now online: Critical, Transdisciplinary and Embodied Approaches in STEM Education. Our chapter,  “Queering Virtual Reality: A Prolegomenon”, by Dylan Paré, Pratim Sengupta, Scout Windsor, John Craig, and Matthew Thompson, is now available from Springer: https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030294885

Chapter Abstract for “Queering Virtual Reality”

Our chapter, “Queering Virtual Reality: A Prolegomenon” is available here: https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/111707

Queering Virtual Reality explores how VR can support critical literacies of gender and sexuality.

Although the VR applications used in this study have changed or have been discontinued, the research findings have important broader implications for the design of multiplayer, social VR and avatar creation tools.

The findings demonstrate how STEM innovations (VR & 3D sculpting) can be leveraged to support productive and playful experiences of inquiry about gender and sexuality that can help address LGBTQ+ marginalizations.

We also show how queer and trans encounters with technology can move us away from reifying domains of knowledge, such as STEM, towards questions of who we were, who we are, and who we can become.

This was the first research I did in my PhD and I’m excited to eventually share later research that grew out of the initial seeds planted during these first design conversations.

Most of all, I’m thankful for my collaborators/friends who were willing to jump in, explore VR, and do this research and design work with me. I’m also very thankful to the editors, Pratim Sengupta, Marie-Claire Shanahan, and Beaumie Kim,  whose hard work made this book possible.

I highly recommend checking out the many fantastic chapters that show how STEM education can be re-imagined through critical approaches.

Book Cover for Critical, Transdisciplinary and Embodied Approaches in STEM Education