Virtual reality learning is coming to Glendale.
Glendale Community College officials have announced a new partnership with Dreamscape Learn to offer students an in-person immersive learning experience that will be taught in a new state-of-the-art Virtual Reality Center.
The partnership was made possible through a $4.5 million grant secured by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, which will fund a five-year pilot program to demonstrate the use and benefits of virtual reality in science classes, general creativity and immersive education.
“We are lucky to have Glendale Community College in the 25th Senate District and take pride in the world-class education it provides to students in our district, as well as the difference it makes in the lives of countless families,” Portantino said.
“This new investment presents a really exciting and original way to learn — whether we’re preparing future biologists, screenwriters, or elementary school teachers. I’m proud that Glendale Community College is not only thinking about how these learning experiences can benefit their college students, but is also working to offer the experiences to local high school students, too.”
The Virtual Reality Center is scheduled to open in 2024 and will be located at the college’s Verdugo Campus near the planetarium and the new 116,000-square-foot science building to form an “innovation alley.”
GCC is the country’s first community college to offer introductory science courses that incorporate VR-enabled instruction, according to the college’s press release. The state funding will be administered by the Glendale College Foundation during the initial five-year project.
The center will not only be open to GCC students. The campus will also allow dual-enrollment students from Glendale Unified School District high schools to participate in the courses that will incorporate Dreamscape Learn courseware.
Dreamscape Learn is the result of a two-year partnership between Arizona State University and DreamWorks Motion Pictures. A study from Arizona State University found that students performed better in courses that integrated VR-based education, according to a GCC press release.
“As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and technology-driven, this investment marks a decisive step towards encouraging more diverse STEM enrollment and success while equipping students with the necessary skills to excel in an ever-evolving global landscape,” said Superintendent/President of Glendale Community College Ryan Cornner in a press release.
“We’ve been really impressed by the results at Arizona State, and are excited to bring this powerful educational experience to our campus. We’re grateful for Sen. Portantino’s unwavering dedication to fostering innovation in the classroom.”
GCC students will use Dreamscape’s immersive biology lab curriculum to act as biologists solving real-life science problems in a complex world of novel creatures and ecosystems. GCC will also have access to the Dreamscape Learn tools for building new immersive environments in important academic programs including architecture, history and other disciplines.
Since 2022, more than 12,000 ASU students have taken the introductory biology lab that incorporates Dreamscape Learn’s “Alien Zoo” curriculum. In the course, students become field biologists within a virtual environment created by Parkes and Steven Spielberg as a movie concept. Students who participated in the lab, which tasked participants to dissect fictional creatures and study their behaviors and habitats, were twice as likely to get an “A” on assignments when compared with their peers who participated in a traditional wet lab setting. These results were consistent across all student demographics, with the exception of honors students, whose performance was unchanged regardless of the format. As a result, ASU has transitioned all of its introductory biology wet labs to the Dreamscape lab.
“Storytelling is the age-old bridge between knowledge and imagination,” said Walter Parkes, co-founder and chairman of Dreamscape Learn. “Our large-scale implementations at ASU have made clear that using VR to immerse students in compelling cinematic narratives is driving new levels of motivation and persistence. We are thrilled to be partnering with Glendale Community College, which has been at the forefront of preparing students for both academic and work-force success across Los Angeles and beyond.”
First published in the November 11 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.