During the 2022 – 23 academic year, Professor Eric Hupe, Art, has served as the CITLS Distinguished Teaching Fellow. His area of focus is immersive technologies which he incorporates in his own teaching and scholarship as an art historian. As a fellow he is supporting the adoption of these technologies in classrooms across disciplines at Lafayette to enhance students’ learning experiences. 

Professor Eric Hupe demonstrating virtual reality equipment

Professor Eric Hupe using virtual reality in a classroom setting

During his fellowship year, Professor Hupe facilitated three sessions that explored one or all of the following technologies: virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D modeling. Virtual reality typically involves participants using a headset or software to enter and explore a virtual environment. In augmented reality, aspects of the virtual world are blended with the real world, and 3D modeling involves creating, visualizing, or printing 3D objects.

Students using virtual reality headsets while seated in a seminar style classroom

A photo of Professor Eric Hupe’s art course with students using virtual reality headsets. Source

During his first session, Teaching in the Metaverse: A Hands-on Introduction to VR, Professor Hupe discussed how he uses virtual reality in his classroom and participants engaged in a VR experience. The second session, How to Create VR Experiences for the Classroom, focused on how to build a virtual environment for a course. Those interested in building such spaces can access the resource Creating Virtual Reality Environments for Teaching developed by Professor Hupe.

The last session, 3D Technologies in the Classroom, consisted of four interactive stations: virtual reality, 3D modeling, augmented reality, and a synthesis station where participants discussed applications of the technologies. Professor Dave Shulman, Anthropology & Sociology, visual resources coordinator Sarah Beck, and Professor Hupe’s research students, Caitlyn Carr and Maya Nylund, supported this event where members of our community were able to explore and brainstorm possibilities for this technology within Lafayette classrooms. On their exit tickets, participants shared sample applications, such as the usage of augmented reality to teach anatomy, to create object-based gallery tours, to view monuments, for scavenger hunts during orientation events, or to make literature come alive. They shared how virtual reality can be used to view locations that are not easily accessible, role playing difficult conversations, sports training preparation, and simulating social environments. Applications for 3D modeling included developing prototypes, creating custom assistive devices for students with disabilities, visualizing landscapes, creating replicas of artwork that can be handled, amplifying small objects making them easier to observe, as well as visualizing landscapes.  

In addition to exploring these technologies with faculty, staff, and students, Professor Hupe is actively publishing scholarship on teaching with virtual reality and presenting at scholarly venues. He recently co-authored the article, The Virtual Renaissance: Adopting Virtual Reality to Transform How Art History is Taught with student researcher Caitlyn Carr. He also co-facilitated a workshop at the International Conference for the Renaissance Society in March. 

We thank Professor Eric Hupe for his ground-breaking work on virtual reality in art history and his willingness to explore the usage of such technologies across disciplines at Lafayette.

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