News Release
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Instructor Mike McCready prepares Lethbridge College President and CEO Dr. Paula Burns to enter the world of virtual reality.

Lethbridge College is inviting anyone with an interest in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to join its new book club. The VR Book Club is just like any other book club, where people with a shared interest read and discuss a book, but with a twist - the capabilities of virtual reality mean this club is open to anyone across the world.

“We already have more than 70 people from six continents signed up for the first session,” says Mike McCready, Lethbridge College Multimedia Production instructor. “Our discussions will be hosted on the AltspaceVR virtual reality platform, which means anyone with access to VR can join in through an interactive environment. But even if you don’t have VR capabilities, you can still watch and discuss through your computer or mobile device, so it really is open to everyone.”

The first selection for the VR Book Club is Augmented Human: How Technology is Shaping the New Reality by Dr. Helen Papagiannis, one of the world’s leading experts in augmented reality. The book’s website describes it as “essential reading for designers, developers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and anyone who desires a peek at our virtual future.”

The first discussion, covering the first three chapters, takes place at 2 p.m. on Jan. 11, with follow-up sessions on Jan. 18 and 25.

“Virtual reality provides the ability to share ideas and learn with people from across the globe,” says McCready. “When you put on the headset, you can talk with people from anywhere in the world and feel like they are in the room with you. This is one of the benefits of social VR and what makes the VR Book Club so interesting. We will be hearing perspectives from dozens of people from around the world.” 

Lethbridge College is rapidly becoming a leader in the field of virtual and augmented reality, incorporating the technology into a variety of programs including Multimedia Production, Digital Communications and Media, Interior Design Technology, Wind Turbine Technology and a variety of health and nursing programs. The college’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation is exploring how to incorporate the technology into the classroom setting for all programs. And, the college hosted the world’s first VR/AR conference held entirely in VR, when Merging Realities brought together hundreds of participants from 16 countries last April. The second annual Merging Realities event will take place on April 25.

The VR Book Club is the latest extension of the college’s work in this field.

“The passion for the virtual and augmented reality industry is evident across Lethbridge College,” says Kris Hodgson-Bright, Chair of the School of Media and Design. “With the work that is going on in various programs and departments, to the creativity of brainstorming new ways to engage with audiences around the globe, all of this work in this field really makes it clear how effective it is to work and collaborate with a global audience. We are so excited for the new ways Lethbridge College is embracing this technology daily.”

Everyone who takes part in the VR Book Club is eligible to win prizes, including MERGE Cubes and books by Cathy Hackl and Charlie Fink. Participants are responsible for acquiring their own copy of Augmented Human, but there is no cost to join the club. To sign up, participants can visit New selections for the book club will be chosen every other month.