Week 1 – Welcome to Wonderland

Our team will be spending the semester exploring how the core principals of the existing Alice materials (using creative expression to secretly teach computational thinking) can shine in virtual reality. We are working with Eric Brown from the Alice team, and our faculty advisors are John Dessler and Dave Culyba.

We have spent this week getting set up and settled in. We met with Eric, John, and Dave to start figuring out what we’ll be attempting over the course of the semester, got our equipment (Oculus Rift with Oculus Touch), decided on a theme for our room (Alice in Wonderland, of course), and started working out what our schedule for the semester will need to look like. This will be a discovery and design oriented project rather than a delivery project, so our goal is to turn out several basic prototypes plus two or three more polished prototypes that could be pitched by the Alice team to potential investors.

The scope of experiences we could potentially create is quite broad, so we plan to spend next week researching existing tools and theories in order to introduce some constraints into our design process. For example, the Alice curriculum spans the K-12 age group, but how old do children need to be before they should use virtual reality? How long can children of various ages stay in virtual reality? Are there any programming concepts that desktop applications just cannot teach in engaging ways, and would VR be more effective?