On August 24 to 26, the I-merse Group (University of South-Eastern Norway's (USN) interdisciplinary and interfaculty research group on immersive technologies) started its first project with a virtual 3-day kick-off meeting.
The project consists of four PhD projects, one each for the four faculties comprising the I-merse Group, namely the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences; the School of Business; the Faculty of Humanities, Sports, and Education Science; and the Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences, and Maritime Sciences.
Rigmor Baraas, the group leader, opened the meeting with an introduction of and the rationale for the project. This was followed by a personality/preference test, introduction to research ethics, presentation of the four faculties, and USN administrative procedures.
Four new PhD fellows
The highlight of the Kick-off, however, was the presentation of the four PhD projects by the four PhD fellows. The four projects, as described by the four PhD fellows, are as follows:
Walter Kibet Yego (Department of Optometry, Radiography, and Lighting Design/Faculty of Health and Social Sciences): The project will study the consequences of having a common eye problem and how this may impact on one's ability to see 3D simulations and perform tasks in extended reality (XR). The project seeks to understand how between-individual differences in eyes and vision affect the ability to use XR simulations for learning and training.
Thi Diem My Ta (Department of Business, Strategy and Political Sciences/School of Business): The project will study the effect of XR simulations on affordance perceptions, preferences, and decision quality in consumer choice, in which the interactive effect of XR simulation will be compared with interactive effect of physical interaction and non-interactive presentation. This project seeks to increase our knowledge about how aspects of XR experiences influence consumers’ learning.
Lynn Dittrich (Department of Educational Science/Faculty of Humanities, Sports and Educational Science): The project will explore higher education students’ attitudes and perceptions towards the use of immersive virtual technologies to acquire professional competencies. The project seeks to ascertain how immersive technologies can be used in the professional development of teacher education students.
Simen Hjellvik (Department of Maritime Operations/Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences and Maritime Sciences): The project will investigate different levels of learning outcomes in training and assessment in professional maritime education. The project seeks to advance our knowledge on how available and future immersive technologies can be implemented and embedded into the simulator training of maritime students for more effective utilization.
About the I-merse Research Group
The I-merse Group is an interdisciplinary research group on immersive technology which aims to advance and research on effective, equitable, and humane utilization of immersive environments in education, commercial sectors, public health, industry, and in society as a whole. The group was founded by Rigmor Baraas, Marte Sørebø Gulliksen, Karen Stendal, and Salman Nazir. The four founders plus Rosemarie Bernabe (I-merse’s administrative coordinator) constitute the I-merse leadership, with Rigmor as the group leader.
I-merse was founded with strategic funding and commitment from the USN Rectorate and the USN Board, totalling to 18M NOK. The funds were allocated for the full three years of the four PhD projects and the 3-year salary of the group's administrative coordinator.