Students from OCAD U and Ontario Tech University had a unique opportunity to collaborate in a virtual reality design workshop at VRTO – The Virtual and Augmented Reality World Conference and Expo (June 1 to 3, 2019). In addition to student attendees at the workshop, the event included joint OCAD U and Ontario Tech teams of students facilitating, and in some cases leading, sessions. Participants were invited to “jump into the digital human experience,” with no prior experience required. All that was needed was a “willingness to learn and an interest in VR.”

The first workshop of its kind in the partnership, the thirty attendees worked together on a VR development team while designing a basic VR experience using common industry tools and applications. Veronika Szkudlarek, assistant professor in the Drawing and Painting department at OCAD U, led a hybrid painting-VR workshop. Participants used materials and textures to make objects using acrylic paint, canvas and pastels that were then 3D scanned and placed into virtual environments. The juxtaposition between analogue mark-making and the 3D space was explored. 

“The workshop offered an important opportunity for students to explore and collaborate on technologies likely to have a profound effect on the way we live and work,” said Alexis Morris, assistant professor in the Digital Futures program at OCAD University, and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Internet of Things. “It was a great opportunity for creatives and technologists to collaborate on common goals.”

Together with Andrew Hogue, associate professor in the Faculty of Business and Information Technology in the Game Development and Entrepreneurship program at Ontario Tech University, Morris led a planning committee that included faculty from both universities to collaborate on the workshop, bringing a variety of interests to the table.

The workshop also provided an opportunity for organizers to explore the concept of VR developer badges, where a workshop like this one could potentially lead toward a future microcredential in VR development.

Held in Toronto, VRTO is a unique, international exhibition of virtual reality and augmented reality, and a professional conference and solutions-focused symposium exploring arts, culture, society, humanities, ethics and sciences through immersive technologies.