CASE STUDY 24: GEORGIAN COLLEGE - FSC: Digital Transformation Project (2021 to 2023)

DI imageDuring his tenure as the Executive Director, Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at Georgian College, Dr. Doran lead a cross-college XR Team made up of researchers, faculty, and staff from several departments. The XR Team was responsible for delivering on a massive research project called Georgian College’s Digital Transformation Strategy, funded by the Future Skills Centre (FSC). FSC provided $955K that was matched by an equal investment from the College. This $2M project spans 2.5 years and ends in 2023.

Project Overview

Georgian College’s Digital Transformation Strategy project launched in April 2021. It is researching ways its students, faculty, and employees can evolve and embrace the digital future of work. As we all have seen, the world is experiencing an unprecedented digital transformation that was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgian wants to remain in step with the exciting digital possibilities presented by extended reality (XR) technologies and the Metaverse and ensure that staff and students gain these valuable experiences to future-proof their skills and knowledge.

Through three pilot projects, Georgian aims to level up students, staff, and faculty’s experience, knowledge, comfort, and use of extended reality technologies (XR) – XR includes things like augmented reality, immersive VR, and multimedia. The project also addresses Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) to find ways to lower barriers for workers and learners while experimenting and implementing new digital solutions. The project is helping the college cultivate its digital future, but also to develop best practices and research findings that other colleges and organizations can use when they adopt new XR technologies and modern ways of working and learning.

Project Objectives:

  1. Level-up as many employees as possible with new XR skills and constructive attitudes towards XR in the workplace and classroom.
  2. Unlock new XR tools for staff, faculty, and students that enhance the Georgian work and learning experience.
  3. Pilot advanced XR tools for curriculum delivery in key departments to develop best practices for use and expansion.
  4. Use XR tools and training to lower barriers for underrepresented students and promote EDI at Georgian.
  5. Measure the impact of these organizational changes over two years.

Research Questions:

QUESTION 1: Does exposure to XR and participation in XR change management programming improve staff & faculty attitudes and comfort with XR over time? 

QUESTION 2: How can EDI approaches and principals be used to lower barriers for Georgian community? [Focused on empathy and intervention]

QUESTION 3: How can immersive VR be implemented in Health, Wellness, and Sciences to enhance learning and skills of students and faculty? [Focused on the efficacy of teaching anatomy in immersive virtual reality, using 3D Organon and BodyMaps].

QUESTION 4: Can XR (AI & Adaptive Learning software) help students enter, explore, and remain engaged in their program. [Originally focused on under-represented populations in Construction Trades. Now refocused on the 4000 students in Communications (COMM 1016) to reach a wider audience and obtain better data].

This $2M project has helped the college deploy over 350 VR headsets to students, faculty, and staff; as well as numerous 2D and 3D XR applications – testing how our population adapts and adopts XR in the classroom and workplace; while identifying best practices, and EDI factors to pave the way to success. VR is now used in 16 program areas and several XR labs are set up at Georgians campuses. The XR Team has a growing number of XR experts including Dr. Jamie Doran (former Executive Director, RIE); XR Manager (Rob Theriault); Lead XR Researcher (Dr. Isabelle Deschamps); XR Technician (Victor Skierski), and ILRN virtual campus leads, Jessica Thomas and Tirth Patel.

Through this work Georgian has also launched the ILRN Virtual Campus and unlocked a suite of XR tools for students and employees, such as EngageVR, BodySwaps, 3D Organon, BodyMaps, REMO, VirBela, and more. Over 1000 students and staff have participated in at least one of these XR experiences. In the fall and winter semesters an XR survey will be used to measure the skill and comfort level of students and staff to better understand the pace at which new XR technologies can be adopted by the college and where they can be most effective. Further, a Best Practices report will be written in 2022/2023 to review of all the work completed thus far, with the intention of sharing it with other post-secondary institutions or large organization undergoing similar transformations.