While TheBetter Clemson App’s original purpose was to draw attention to spaces and places on our campus so that users could see our campus problems first hand, as the unit developed over five semesters and we thought more and more about mobility, it was only natural that we would eventually experiment with embodiment in virtual spaces. As a result, I worked with Clemson’s Academic Technology Council to pilot VR in the classroom. My students gathered spherical images and worked with digital tools to provide interactivity within the application. We had some success using a program called ThingLink (https://www.thinglink.com) to annotate our images. With ThingLink, makers can tag photos in standard or spherical images. Users can then click the tag buttons to access dropdowns, connect to hyperlinks, or play audio and video, in addition to many other utilities. One group of students focused on Campus safety using ThingLink to create scenes in which the user could learn more about different choices in hopes that the user would make better choices if they ever found themselves in that situation.
Another student group focused on transportation infrastructure at our school, which many students find extremely dangerous for pedestrians as our campus does not regulate automobile traffic. Our roads are busy and that's a problem.
Citing this danger a group used satire to compose a situation that both drew attention to both the danger of our infrastructure and the high cost of Clemson tuition. Playing off of the myth that students struck by Catbuses on the crosswalk receive free tuition (this is not factual), this app details how a given student might proceed to get hit by a bus and thus take advantage of the dangerous transportation infrastructure so as to receive free tuition. The app uses spherical images that provide instructions on how to get run over by a Catbus and a real-time map embedded in the app to show where the Catbuses are circulating on campus. Again, this app is satire - an attempt to use humor to draw attention to safety problems on campus and to our high cost of tuition.
Stephen Quigley is a PhD student in Clemson RCID (Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design) He specializes in digital composition pedagogy and theory helping a wide range of individuals to communicate their message using digital tools.