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Editors' Preface and Acknowledgments

Published onNov 01, 2021
Editors' Preface and Acknowledgments


The last decade (2010-2020) ushered in unprecedented numbers of immersive technologies available to visualize the world around us. 3D modeling and cultural heritage scanning have changed how we curate and present objects and knowledge in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. Digital editors and game engines have transformed practices in the film, game, and software industries that govern the virtual spaces we inhabit. These same tools have likewise changed the automotive, architecture, and manufacturing industries that design the physical built environments in our communities. And of course, the widespread availability of mobile phones and cameras have shifted how we perceive and interact with the world, extending how we can engage with space and place, regardless of personal regional perspective. In ways known and yet to be known, these immersive technologies have changed our vernacular epistemologies.

These transformative 3D technologies can be deployed for ethical and innovative work or misused in ways that affirm unjust structures of power. At the time of writing, Facebook, the company that owns Oculus, has recently rebranded itself as “Meta” in anticipation of the metaverse. Among other rule changes, Oculus users have found themselves forced to opt into the Facebook platform. These conditional tool use agreements have led many to consider the long-term implications of who controls access to virtual spaces. Practitioners in the field of education must be aware of the origins and contexts in which tools are made, as this informs how they can use 3D technologies responsibly. It is vital that teachers scaffold into their lessons critical thinking exercises about the risks and affordances of immersive tools, lest they resemble big tech companies that deploy these technologies for commercial purposes while proclaiming their benefits for ethical thinking and empathetic feeling. The coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many to consider 3D immersion as a remote learning solution, has only added to the tension between a growing interest in and skepticism about virtual tools. In the coming decade, it is urgent for practitioners to connect with each other and to share best practices.

The #DLFteach Toolkit Volume 2 on immersive pedagogy engages with these emerging  technologies and related concerns by providing lesson plans and best practices for use in wide-ranging learning environments. Several of the lesson plans engage with theoretical frameworks in decolonization, intersectionality, and disability studies to challenge normative approaches towards and uses of immersive technology and learning. This Toolkit focuses on full-fledged lesson plans in order to facilitate well documented and formalized disciplinary and interdisciplinary work engaged with immersive technology. For our purposes, immersive technology includes, but is not limited to, Augmented Reality (AR), (MR) Mixed Reality, and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, 3D modeling and scanning software, 3D game engines and WebGL platforms, as well as 3D printers and extruders. 

Lesson plans in the Toolkit further engage with anti-racist and feminist methodologies as well as accessible design for universal learning, each to illustrate the potential for using immersive technologies to extend critical pedagogy and humanistic teaching. Immersive technologies demonstrate real possibilities for collaborative and multidisciplinary learning, even while remaining fraught with problems prevalent in the industrialization of emerging digital technologies. This Toolkit introduces potential instructors to the concepts of immersive and digital library pedagogy, offering an opportunity to interrogate and develop practices and standards for these technologies while adapting and applying these lesson plans in real world settings. Special attention in this volume has been given to pursuing principles of open access and sustainability, especially towards addressing the challenges in creating open access pedagogical resources for proprietary and contingent technologies.

Toolkit Overview

The Toolkit’s sessions are broken down into three broad sections: Introductory Materials, Creating 3D Worlds, and Learning in Virtual Worlds. The Introductory Materials include guides, plans, and a glossary for educators to consider when using the Toolkit’s lesson plans with immersive technology. 

For these Introductory Materials, Jasmine L. Clark’s “Recommendations for Accessible Pedagogy with Immersive Technology” provides educators with a selection of accessibility resources and a list of considerations when offering equitable access for disbled learners. Clark’s “Immersive Technology Auditing Checklist” supplements educators’ lesson plans with a checklist to identify and document challenges to make immersive technology accessible, such as an Equally Effective Alternative Action Plan (EEAAP). An EEAPP is a document used when there is an accessibility barrier in a technology. Clark details an EEAPP in “Creating an Equally Effective Alternative Action Plan for Immersive Technologies,” to assist educators in addressing unexpected obstacles that may arise. As immersive technologies are quite complex in their description and application to pedagogical environments, Courtney Dalton has developed a “Glossary” of terms for educators to refer to when using the lesson plans in the Toolkit.

In Creating 3D Worlds, authors provide lesson plans for how to create immersive content using a variety of tools and technologies, while applying critical frameworks to critique many of the platforms taken for granted in the production of knowledge. Lorena Gauthereau and Chris J. Young’s session “The Decolonial Walkthrough” applies decolonial theory to the walkthrough method to examine the colonial structures of knowledge and hierarchies of power within cross-reality and 3D applications. Gauthereau and Young provide an example decolonial walkthrough of the Unity Asset Store, guiding participants to critically engage with how immersive content is produced, replicated, and sold in many of the platforms we use everyday. Cecelia Lopez et al.’s two lesson plans “Decolonizing your Diet” and “Re-Imagining Campus Spaces” utilize augmented reality technologies to reimagine the ways we describe historical materialities. In both sessions, instructors are encouraged to challenge students to build interactive storytelling experiences through the lens of decolonial approaches to show how knowledge is constructed and used according to inherited systems of power. 

Chad Hutchens and Charles Koenig in their session, “Getting Started with 3D Digitization,” provide detailed instructions for beginners looking to carry out 3D digitization of physical objects. Hutchens and Koenig cover two popular methods of 3D digitization: structured light scanning and photogrammetry. Their lesson serves as an excellent introduction for those looking to learn the 3D digitization workflow. Courteney Dalton’s lesson on “3D Modeling for Historical Reconstruction” introduces instructors to how to train students in the reconstruction of historical objects and spaces using the 3D modeling software SketchUp. Dalton’s session requires students to interrogate the sources of information in order to make decisions on how to reconstruct historical materialities for interpretation and discussion. Young’s session on “Critical Game Making an RPG in Unity” outlines the process of creating a gameplay experience where creators and players, using the game editor Unity, are able to explore and reflect on contemporary issues in a range of communities, knowledge domains, and life experiences. Young’s session can be used by instructors looking to incorporate a creative-based lesson plan or assignment while critically engaging with the topics and contemporary issues of the course.

In Learning in Virtual Worlds, our authors develop lesson plans for how to use 3D/VR/AR technologies and engage with critical interdisciplinary frameworks that challenge preconceived notions of access and sustainability. Amanda Licastro et al.’s session “Exploring Virtual Reality Through the Lens of Disability” introduces participants to alternative sensory and embodied experiences through 360 representations. Licastro et al.’s session has participants define the basic terms of disability studies, then apply them to describing and analyzing virtual reality experiences reflecting on disabilities. Stephan Caspar’s session “Learning in Virtual Spaces” introduces students to the experience of learning about language, culture, and identity in virtual spaces like Altspace VR. Caspar’s session will interest instructors looking to engage students with virtual ways of interacting, communicating, and learning. 

Ajima Olaghere’s session on “Teaching Environmental Influences on Quality of Life with 360 Video” overviews how 360 video can enhance the education of undergraduate students using fieldwork research in urban places while applying a critical lens. Olaghere’s session is useful for instructors looking to evaluate the application of 3D technologies in macro socio-structural processes, decisions that impinge on opportunities, and the distribution of quality of life issues in urban environments. Laura E. Smith’s two sessions on “Relational Landscapes” and “Land and Belonging” employ 360-degree video technologies to understand historical or contemporary landscapes and architectures as part of a wider immersive experience. Smith’s sessions can be used as lessons and assignments for students to visualize regions and places as part of a wider examination of historical places or geographical areas to enhance a classroom learning experience. Juliette Levy’s session “Building and Testing a VR Module” documents phases of introducing students to a virtual reality research environment via a point and click adventure with multimedia formats of information, like sound clips, documents, and photographs. In the session example, students explore and critically engage with historical source material related to agricultural workers, land reform, and foreign interests in a virtual encampment during Cuba’s revolution.

Taken together, these sessions showcase some of the immersive pedagogies that can be applied to learning environments through a critical lens. Some sessions take deep dives into using digital tools and technologies to create immersive content for assignments and knowledge mobilization projects. Other sessions get under-the-hood of software and hardware interfaces to critically-engage with the ways these immersive technologies shape the world around us. Whichever sessions you choose to use for your instruction, we hope your students acquire a deeper understanding of how immersive technologies can be used to engage with disciplinary topics and contemporary issues.

Using this collection

Our contributors have structured their lesson plans for instructors to use in a variety of learning contexts. Some of these lesson plans can be completed within an hour as part of a workshop or in-class session. Other lesson plans are scaffolded to take place over the course of a multi week semester. All lesson plans generally include the following sections to provide instructors with the pedagogy and structure they need to instruct their students or participants:

  • Session Specifics: the purpose and overview of the lesson plan.

  • Instructional Partners: the intended instructors as well as the required and optional knowledge to teach the lesson plan.

  • Audience: the intended audience as well as the required and optional knowledge to achieve the learning outcomes in the lesson plan.

  • Curricular Context: the intended learning environment and appropriate knowledge disciplines to achieve the learning outcomes in the lesson plan.

  • Learning Outcomes: the learning outcomes for instructors and/or students in the lesson plan, including disciplinary knowledge and technical skills.

  • Preparation: the resources, technical requirements, and knowledge necessary for instructors to make the lesson plan accessible for their audience.

  • Session Outline: the activities, resources, and instructions for how to successfully implement the lesson plan with the instructor’s intended audience

  • Assessment: the criteria for how to assess participants’ engagement with the lesson plans and their achievement of the learning outcomes.

  • Reflection: the author’s reflective comments on potential issues or challenges for others to keep in mind when teaching the lesson plan.

  • Additional instructional materials: additional resources, references, and documents may be distributed throughout or provided at the end of the lesson plan.

We have allowed our contributors flexibility in the way they structure their sessions according to the above criteria. However, all lessons include learning outcomes, preparation, a session outline, and additional instructional materials where appropriate. These additional materials — including slides, handouts, assessments, datasets, and 3D models — are all hosted in the DLF OSF repository linked from each lesson. When using these open materials for your own planning, make sure to download the slides to see notes for presenters, and for data that is too large to render in preview. There you will also find markdown versions of each lesson plan.


Under the terms of the Creative Commons license adapted for each contribution (CC BY or CC BY-NC 4.0) you are free to share, adapt, remix, and transform the material contained here. Please give proper attribution and credit for reuse. Please also share your iterations with the wider #DLFTeach community on Twitter using the #DLFTeach hashtag. You can find us on Twitter and in-person at the annual DLF Forum for workshops and community-building.


Managing Editor

Alex Wermer-Colan

Technical Editor

Mackenzie Brooks

Editorial Team

  • Lorena Gauthereau

  • Melanie Hubbard

  • Jessica Linker

  • Emma Slayton

  • Neil Weijer

  • Heidi Winkler

  • Chris J. Young

Peer Reviewers

  • Mackenzie Brooks

  • Ryan Cassidy

  • Jasmine Clark

  • Tom Corbette

  • Lorena Gauthereau

  • Kristina Golubieqski

  • Melanie Hubbard

  • Chad Hutchens

  • Juliette Levy

  • Jessica Linker

  • Zach Lischer-Katz

  • Matt Naglak

  • Will Rourk

  • Emma Slayton

  • Victoria Szabo

  • Neil Weijer

  • Alex Wermer-Colan

  • Heidi Winkler

  • Chris J. Young


We acknowledge the support from the Digital Library Federation in allowing us to develop these instructional resources and lesson plans, and the Council on Library and Information Resources and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for providing the initial funding for Immersive Pedagogy: A Symposium on Humanities Teaching and Learning with 3D, Augmented and Virtual Reality, hosted at Carnegie Mellon University in 2019, and foundational to the development of this Toolkit. 

The DLF Toolkit Volume 2 was created during Covid-19 pandemic. The Editors of this volume decided to create a Call for Papers and publication workflow that allowed for rolling submissions and flexible scheduling at each stage of the editorial process. Editors, contributors, and reviewers were forced to develop and assess these lesson plans under difficult conditions, not least because of social distancing limitations on access to the physical hardware and in-person classroom context essential to the deployment of many immersive technologies for pedagogical purposes. The Editors are grateful to our contributors and reviewers for working steadfastly during the pandemic to publish these excellent lesson plans on emerging technologies in 3D visualization.

We thank the many editors, reviewers, and colleagues who offered their expertise in helping to produce an excellent selection of lesson plans from instructors across North America. We are thrilled to have this content on PubPub, a platform dedicated to open research and scholarship, and we hope readers will find it applicable to their own instruction and learning environments.

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