Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Deep Dive into Mixed Reality for Social Impact

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Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Derek Ham  
This talk presents years of scholarship on how we can build mixed reality (VR + AR) experiences and use them as tools to bring about social change. Building mixed reality projects is immensely collaborative and presents opportunities for collaboration among designers, historians, computer scientists, social activists, government officials, artists and humanities scholars. The vMLK Project, a VR project that re-created a speech by Martin Luther King Jr., is a recent example of this proposed collaboration. Another project that will be discussed is the award-winning “I Am A Man VR Experience,” which places users in the center of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike and allows one to see events leading to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Both examples of work have been critically examined and praised for the quality of the projects and the impact the work has had on communities. This work has helped pave the way for an entirely new way to use media to foster empathy as these conversations make their way into K-12 curricula. Dr. Ham’s work has been cited by several researchers and developers, yet there is still much to learn about the craft of creating mixed reality projects. Immersive hardware and the pipelines to develop content on them evolve and change at a rapid pace. This talk will discuss some of the challenges in both developing and disseminating immersive VR content in a variety of settings in and out of the classroom. The resources provided in this talk will enable tangible takeaways to help those interested in creating immersive content and those looking to use such tools in learning environments.


Derek Ham, NC State University College of Design

Derek Ham, Ph.D., is an associate professor and head of the Art + Design department for NC State University’s College of Design. His research expertise includes game-based learning, digital storytelling and immersive media. Ham completed his doctoral work in design computation at MIT, and holds a master’s in architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and a bachelor’s in architecture from Hampton University. As the founder of the Mixed Reality Lab at the College of Design, he investigates virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to find ways these tools can expand how we work and play. In 2019, NC State University also invested in the lab’s spin off company, Logic Grip Inc., a startup that produces VR content and develops new VR hardware and peripheral devices. In 2017, Ham received funding from Oculus by Facebook through its Launchpad Program to complete a VR project called “I Am A Man.” This project centers on civil rights, the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike and last days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The VR experience has been broadly celebrated for its achievement in the use of this new technology to communicate history in a meaningful way. The project has been shown at film festivals nationally and internationally, including the SIGGRAPH 2018 Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality Program. “I Am A Man” won the Perspectives Award for Immersive Storytelling at the 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival, won VR Best of Show at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival, and was the winner of the 2018 FoST Prize for the category “Bridging the Divide.” Ham’s next VR project, “Barnstormers,” is a VR telling of the Negro Baseball League. It’s currently in pre-production and is being funded by the Epic Game’s Mega Grant program.

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