GV Expo: Gelardin New Media Center Turning Students into VR Producers

Barrinton Baynes helps lead the development of VR use at Georgetown

WASHINGTON—Barrinton Baynes and his colleagues at the Gelardin New Media Center at Georgetown University don’t want to wait to have their students learn about virtual reality in textbooks. Baynes is working to not only teach students firsthand about the emerging technology, but also pushing them to produce content relevant in areas across the university.

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Barrinton Baynes

Baynes, a multimedia project manager who will speak at the Government Video Expo in November, has been with the Gelardin New Media Center for the past 10 years and for the last year he has been working on developing 360-degree immersive video projects, as well as developing Georgetown’s VR offerings.

A number of different organizations and departments within the university have already utilized VR technology, whether it be an environmental geoscience course creating a 360-degree video to show the Best Buddy program experiments on the Potomac River, or the medical department featuring a short VR simulation that aims to provide an insight into the field of geriatrics. But simply experiencing content through HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or other VR platforms isn’t the end goal for Baynes and his colleagues.

Baynes says that Georgetown is attempting to put together a team of students—whether they be from the Communications, Culture and Technology interdisciplinary Masters program or the university’s video game club—to produce more VR content. “That’s where we are now, getting people together and just trying to figure out how we can create more content for academic use.”

While Gelardin’s initial entry into VR was to examine different means of treating phobias or other types of treatments, Baynes says that their knowledge of VR has expanded into a wide range of departments at the university and have a desire for more.

“We want to work with the School of Foreign Services and do virtual tours of different locations in the world,” Baynes said. “We’ve also worked with the Masters in Public Relations Cause Consulting course that’s offered by the School of Continuous Studies and they’re basically trying to find out ways that they can potentially put together VR teams to promote concepts for non-profit organizations. I’ve also worked with Professor Betsy Sigman; she has an Ecommerce course and her students are researching VR to figure out different ways of marketing their ideas and products to potential clients. We’re all over the place with VR right now, but definitely in a position now to be creators instead of just being consumers; we want to be producers of this type of content in the near future.”

Barrinton Baynes will be one of the speakers on a panel about VR in practical use at the 2017 Government Video Expo, which will take place from Nov. 28-30 in Washington, D.C.

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