Out with the Old, In with the New: Tutt Library Renovation Will Bring Virtual Reality to CC Campus

Written by Chaney Skilling

Colorado College is about to be upgraded. Tutt Library is experiencing renovations on both the outside and inside. Come fall 2017, students will be welcomed back not only with a breathtaking exterior, but also a dazzling interior that fosters collaboration across every discipline. At the forefront of the upgrades: technology.

A collaborative effort between ITS and the library renovation committee, Tutt 2.0 will feature a “Technology Sandbox.” Available to students, staff, and faculty alike, the Sandbox hopes to incorporate technology into all aspects of the CC curriculum. As part of the Sandbox kick-off, CC has purchased the latest Virtual Reality technology, adding to the college’s innovative atmosphere. “I think this is a really great addition,” said senior Caitlin Taber. “It’s always a struggle to gage how new and exciting technology will be received, but there’s a lot of potential.”

Described as a hybrid between education and entertainment, Virtual Reality technology offers a new approach to course work. Rather than sitting in a lecture or reading from a textbook, students can strap on the VR headgear, and become literally immersed in their studies. “Because VR is so interactive, you have to take part in the story,” said Taber. Current programs include Vincent Van Gough’s “Night Café,” a tour of The Louvre, and the human brain. With a flip of a switch, students can be transported to places they’ve never seen before, taking their learning experience to a whole new level. However, there is more to VR than just a few cool images and videos—the technology also increases accessibility. Before VR technology took hold, students were limited to on-campus resources. Today, with the number of programs increasing, VR will give people the chance to experience the world without stepping outside Tutt’s doors.

“Everybody deserves to have the same experience, no matter their resources,” said GIS Paraprofessional Noah Cutter. “That’s what we’re trying to do—provide new opportunities for visualization, exploration, and experiential learning.” Although CC is one of only a handful of other liberal arts colleges currently investing in VR, Cutter is confident it will soon be an integral part of college life. Imagine reading the Constitution while in the National Archives, working up close with a human heart, or studying architecture from the halls of the Vatican. VR technology can take that imagination and make it a reality for students, no matter their resources. From art to political science to anatomy, VR has the potential to go where no other technology has ventured.

To raise awareness, ITS is sponsoring Worner Center Pop-Ups throughout the year, in hopes that students will take advantage of the Technology Sandbox once Tutt reopens next fall. “We are placing more emphasis on technology innovation in Tutt, and we want people to know about it,” said Cutter. Encouraging students to get their hands virtually dirty and faculty to be open to the idea of technology-enhanced curriculum, these Pop-Up events are open to all.

During these two-hour sessions, participants can try one of several VR programs and become acquainted with the immersive experiences it provides. Come August 2017, CC will be home to not only a new library, but also an entirely new virtual world.

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