Reimagining the humanities: Immersive 3D environments for teaching, learning, and research

The Virtual Viking Longship Project, supported by a Level I Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the NEH, explores strategies for establishing a digital humanities (DH) community of inquiry and practice at two leading liberal arts institutions, Grinnell College and Carleton College. The creation of an immersive, standalone virtual reality (VR) experience for visualizing the social, linguistic, cultural, political, and economic roles that the longship played in the Viking Age will provide the impetus to this investigation.

This presentation will detail the development work leading up to the grant award, including the creation and operation of the Grinnell College Immersive Experiences Lab (GCIEL). The presentation will also discuss the affordances of immersive 3D environments for teaching and learning, how GCIEL supports the public good and promotes social responsibility through its activity, and how students on GCIEL development teams learn the technical, social-awareness, and problem-solving skills within a liberal arts context that make them attractive candidates for 21st-century jobs. By the conclusion of the presentation, the audience will be able to see how the Viking longship is created in Blender, a free 3D modeling platform, and experience a prototype of the longship on a Quest mobile VR headset.

Speaker bio: Dr. David Neville is the founding Director of the Grinnell College Immersive Experiences Lab and a Digital Liberal Arts Specialist at Grinnell College. Originally trained as a medievalist and Germanist, David is the author of over 50 articles, posters, and presentations on topics related to the digital humanities, immersive computing, digital game-based learning, blended learning, business German, and the medieval German mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg. His scholarly work investigates how XR experiences can best be designed, developed, and deployed to support humanistic learning.