1. Harnessing Simulation in Hybrid Education
  2. Physics of Energy Efficient Cooking – A Collaborative Online Kitchen
  3. URISE Indigenous
  4. How to Maximze Flexibility With the Sustainable Meta Class
  5. Peoples-uni: Online Learning for Public Health Capacity Building in the Global South
  6. Transforming Design Critiques: Hybrid and Virtual Approaches in Graduate Studios
  7. Cene: An Alternate Reality Game About Climate Change

Case Study 01 
Harnessing Simulation in Hybrid Education

Dr. Carl Heffernan

Consultant Physician, University Hospitals Dorset, UK and Lecturer Practitioner, Bournemouth University, United Kingdom 

  • COVID-19 pandemic required innovative approaches to simulation-based education.
  • Remote simulation allowed streaming and engagement for healthcare students while using current resources.
  • Virtual reality (VR) simulation provides immersive simulation and analytics to help develop sessions. 
  • Need a strategic approach to integrating VR simulation to hybrid education.

Keywords: simulation-based education, virtual reality (VR), remote simulation, hybrid education

Covid was a challenging time across higher education institutions. In healthcare subjects, where many educational opportunities are practical, a revaluation of teaching methods was required beyond simply transitioning to online learning environments (Rautela et al., 2024). We focused on what strategies we could employ to deliver simulation to our students at home. This case-study will explore the solution: remote simulation. Additionally, from the experience gained, we will discuss our experience of integrating VR simulation post-pandemic lockdown. 

Remote Simulation
For healthcare students, simulation is a way of ‘showing how’ (Cruess et al., 2016), putting theory into practice in a safe, supported environment. These are popular sessions and often help conceptualise learning (Morris, 2020). During Covid, we used existing infrastructure at the local hospital’s simulation suite that had video capabilities and integrated with the university’s streaming environment.

By live-streaming simulations to the students, having the facilitator guiding discussions, encouraging active engagement, and developing clinical reasoning; we were able to run this dynamic session (Figure 1). Analysing the feedback, we made iterative improvements such as embedding a PowerPoint with results and enabling dynamic quick polls to augment the engagement. 

Feedback was positive, with the main criticism being intermittent audio or lagging. Some students had accessibility problems with microphones not working, therefore unable to engagement beyond using the chat box. This required making sure this was checked by the facilitator. 

While this cannot fully replicate traditional simulation, there were advantages. It enabled development of clinical reasoning under difficult challenges and enabled use of interactive virtual tools to give experience for hybrid learning. Remote simulation required less resources but did take more planning and relied on the infrastructure being available. 

Figure 1: Graphical representation of remote simulation (Alex Smith-Vidal) 

Virtual Reality
Following the pandemic, we gained local funding, to buy VR headsets and a year subscription for Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS). This investment enabled an immersive experience either via the headset or on a desktop. OMS offered dynamic observations mirroring real-life, along with communicating with a simulated patient and features accessing their results. Furthermore, analytics of student performance, gave students tailored feedback and signposting to UK guidelines. This was accessible to faculty members, enabling adjustments to future sessions.

Issues relating to the set-up, due to requiring IT to download software and connect onto the university space and running sessions to on-board the students to familiarise them to OMS. Maintenance tasks involved keeping headsets updated, connected to the Wi-Fi, and fully charged for future sessions. 

Within the classroom, VR simulation did not require specialised skills rooms, expensive simulation models or additional faculty members. Headsets could be streamed to the projector so the whole class could see what the operator did. Surprisingly, students preferred using the desktop to run group cases rather than the headset. This did allow us to build this type of simulation into lectures, an example, being discussing heart attack diagnosis and initial management, then running the cases, showing the differences and similarities. This method can also be shared via a streaming platform if students at home. Figure 2 shows some of the comments from students.

Figure 2: Word cloud of student's thoughts on VR simulation.

This hybrid approach appeals to the diverse types of student learning styles and gives flexibility for students to revisit cases at home. Furthermore, less resources are required and analytics to help plan future sessions. However, the high initial investments may be prohibitive and needs to be compared to traditional simulation. The subscription service for the software can be affected by increasing future costs and needs to be considered. 

As technology advances, the affordability and accessibility of VR should improve. Smart phones are becoming more powerful and using a cheap headset holder, can mimic to a degree the VR environment. 

Recommendations for others who would like to set up/do something similar
VR simulation is growing, with more providers coming out, more immersive cases and more use of artificial intelligence to generate communication skills and analytics. This technology will get better and more accessible in the future. 

If considering hybrid session, it is important to focus on the end objective, rather than just implement as it is novel. VR simulation, within healthcare, or indeed any subject area requiring communication skills, can be embedded within lectures to create bespoke hybrid sessions. 

Make sure you have the infrastructure in place before hand and address and onboarding issues such as firewalls or Wi-Fi access. You will also need to make sure you have a charging process or dock, so the headsets do not run out of batteries mid-session. If streaming via Zoom or Teams, make sure you can screen your screen and audio, to save time during the session. 

Gain feedback, what did student like? Lecture and then a full case, case then lecture or a mix of both. Every group will be different, so change it up. Add some polls or padlets for thoughts to keep those not doing the cases engaged. 

Use any analytic feature to see where students as a group struggle, this can help plan revision sessions or future sessions by focusing on areas required. 

Evaluate the cost-effectiveness. Software platforms are not cheap, but you need to take into consideration the costs of traditional simulation. This is not a replacement, rather an augment to what is available, the first example, used what was already available, and was valued by students. 

I would like to thank Professor Chantal Simon of Bournemouth University, for reviewing and giving feedback on this draft, as well as giving permission to try the above examples on the Physician associate course. I would also like to thank Alex Smith-Vidal for Figure 1. 

Cruess, R.L., Cruess, S.R., & Steinert, Y. (2016). Amending Miller’s Pyramid to Include Professional Identity Formation. Academic Medicine, 91(2).

Morris, T.H. (2020). Experiential Learning – a Systematic Review and Revision of Kolb’s Model. Interactive Learning Environments, 28(8), 1064-1077.

Rautela, S., Sharma, S., & Virani, S. (2024). Learner-learner Interactions in Online Classes During COVID-19 Pandemic: The Mediating Role of Social Media in the Higher Education Context. Interactive Learning Environments, 32(2), 639–654.

Case Study 02
Physics of Energy Efficient Cooking – A Collaborative Online Kitchen

Carla Ramsdell, PE

Practitioner in Residence, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA 

  • Course developed originally as a “digestible” general education course to help students understand physics by relating the concepts to things we do in a kitchen.
  • Course includes a strong sustainability component, understanding the kitchen as a climate change mitigation maker-space.
  • The COVID-19 Pandemic required a shift to online format.
  • The success of this shift has provided an opening to a new online cooking classroom for hybrid education and far-reaching opportunities.

Keywords: physics, food, sustainability, cooking

At Appalachian State University, a general education physics course was developed in 2019 around the topics of food, cooking and sustainability. The goal of this course was to provide an approachable entry point for improved physics literacy, mainly for non-physics majors. Additionally, this course was developed to provide students with improved climate literacy and climate mitigation actions that could be accomplished immediately in their home cooking and food decision. This is helpful both for our climate future and for decreased climate anxiety for students (Mosko, 2020).

Due to limited faculty in the academic fall and spring semesters, this course was originally only offered in the 5-week summer term as an in-person class. Originally, the course was a combination of in-person lectures, discussions and in-person cooking labs to test the science concepts with recipes designed to address each module of the course. These in-person labs were highly engaging but also put significant strain on the faculty member for the procurement of ingredients, setup and clean up. This was ‘justified’ due to the high level of engagement of the students who could test the concepts, work collaboratively with other students, take energy data and reflect on the various results. The long-term viability of this model was questionable due to the significant effort, space and equipment requirements and preparation cost and time.

In the summer of 2020, the COVID-10 Pandemic required that this course transition to an all-online format or be cancelled. In an attempt to keep the momentum for this curriculum growing, the faculty member opted to try an online format with asynchronous online video lectures and weekly synchronous online cooking labs.

At this stage, the course was still in its development stage and was offered as a special topics course, which was a 3000-level course offering. To meet the academic rigor of this level of a physics class, the students were required to purchase approximately $100 of cooking instrumentation so that they were able to collect data on these cooking labs. This equipment included scales, thermometers, stand-alone cooktops and energy meters. Students were able to purchase the electric cooktop of their choice, allowing for a range in heating methods, including radiant, resistance and induction. The results of these labs then were uploaded to a shared Google sheet so students could observe the differences in students cooking the same recipe with different cooktops and draw conclusions about the energy efficiency of these options.

While the faculty member had apprehensions about the effectiveness of this online cooking format, the experience was much better than anticipated. Although everyone was in their own kitchens, these weekly online meetups to cook together created a type of community among the class at a time when community connections with peers was particularly challenging.

These online cooking labs alleviated many of the challenges that the previous in-person cooking labs presented. The ingredients were procured by each student. Note that an effort was made to ensure that the cost of these ingredients was very low to not post unnecessary financial strain on the students. Students were cooking in their own kitchens and so the set up and clean up and equipment maintenance for the faculty member was greatly reduced.

When vaccinations were available and the university returned to in-person instruction, this course remained in a hybrid format due to the success and advantages noted above of the online cooking sessions. This course has gained popularity, has now been approved as a general educations offering and is offered as a hybrid course in the summer and fall semester. For the upcoming summer of 2024, the course filled with a full waiting list during the first few weeks of registration.

Currently the purchase of cooking equipment for the labs has been removed due to the cost to the students and the unsustainability of students purchaseing this equipment for a limited number of labs and then not needing that equipment beyond the course. The hope is to eventually find a grant to pay for a set of this equipment for each student to check out each semester which would allow for continued data collection without the financial burden or over consumerism.

Based on the success of this program, an additional online cooking series, Cooking with Purpose (CwP), has been developed on our campus in partnership with The Office of Sustainability, Off-Campus Student Services and The College of Arts and Sciences. CwP is a not-for-credit, voluntary 4-part cooking series offered each semester to improve cooking skills of students, provide delicious recipes that highlight healthy, inexpensive ingredients that are typically found in our campus’ food pantries and offer tips and tricks for cooking with food and methods that are more environmentally sustainable. This aims to help alleviate food insecurity on campus, empower students with climate change mitigation strategies (van Bergen, 2024) in their food choices, reduce student anxiety, and develop community (some students choose to cook with friends).

Screenshot from a Cooking with Purpose online cooking class.

This work is soon to expand beyond Appalachian State’s campus to help improve climate change and cooking science literacy across the globe. A lab is currently being constructed (see image) to serve as a virtual energy efficient, science cooking classroom. This online cooking classroom is outfitted with video cameras, lighting and energy monitoring equipment to allow for online cooking classes in other college classrooms, academic conferences, corporate lunch and learn sessions, etc… The opportunities are endless and we are excited to expand this model as far as possible!

Energy efficient, science cooking classroom. Expected completion June 2024.

Recommendations for others who would like to set up/do something similar
  • This teaching method can easily be replicated at other universities or programs. The setup is relatively simple and does not have to be elaborate.
  • Removing the in-person cooking element greatly reduces the costs, upkeep and clean up, allowing more time for additional experiences.

Thanks to (all at Appalachian State University):

  • The Department of Physics and Astronomy

  • The College of Arts and Sciences

  • Sustainability and Energy Management

  • Off-Campus Student Services

for their long-standing and continued support of this work.

Mosko, J. E., & Delach, M. J. (2020). Cooking, Creativity, and Well‐being: An Integration of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 55(2), 348-361.

van Bergen, G., Neufingerl, N., Meijboom, S., de Rosa Spierings, K., Zandstra, E. H., & Polet, I. (2024). What's Cooking, if not Meat? Effects of Repeated Home-use, Recipe Inspiration and Meal Context on Perception of Plant-based Meat Analogues. Appetite, 193, 107135. ISSN 0195-6663.

Additional Resources
Video recording of my presentation about this evolution at the 15th International Conference on Climate Change in Vancouver, Canada can be found here: 

Case Study 03
URISE Indigenous

Gerald Ratt

Office of Indigenous Engagement, University of Calgary, Canada

Shawna Cunningham

Office of Indigenous Engagement, University of Calgary, Canada

Andrew Mardjetko

Human Resources, University of Calgary, Canada

  • Intercultural Capacity Building.
  • Transformation.
  • Commitment.
  • Enhancement.
  • Responsibility.

Keywords: Indigenous, intercultural capacity, awareness, understanding, reconciliation

Description of your hybrid example, including the context in which it is based
The University of Calgary will engage in systemic and systematic transformation, particularly transformation of the identity and cultural landscape of the campus community, promoting inclusivity and respect. Transforming our ways of being means changing and renewing how all people are understood, supported, and respected and how authentic relationships with Indigenous communities are developed and sustained. Meaningful transformation requires a paradigm shift in values, attitudes, belief systems, behaviours, and ongoing commitment and intention. 

URise Indigenous (see also: is intended to enrich and enhance learning, engagement, awareness, and understanding of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples, identities, worldviews, and cultures, increasing intercultural capacity building of the campus community. 

By participating, staff and faculty are invited to learn, reflect, and enhance their understanding of Indigenous ways of connecting, knowing, being, doing, and furthering their understanding of truth and reconciliation, Indigenous-Settler relations, history, Indian Act policy, anti-Indigenous racism, connection to the land, and the interwoven relationships among place and people.

Core Courses
  • The Story of ii'taa'poh'to'p (1hr) - online
  • Beginning the Journey Towards Reconciliation (2hrs) - online
  • Land Acknowledgments (1.5hr) - in person
  • 21 things you may not know about the Indian Act (2hrs) - in person

Additional Courses (strongly recommended)
  • Anti Indigenous Racism Workshop Series (6hrs) - in person
  • Indigenous Strategy Tipi Training Workshop (4hrs) – in person
  • Towards Being a Good Relative (2hrs) - in development

Recommendations for others who would like to set up/do something similar
  1. Relational reciprocity.
  2. Consultation w/ Elders and community.
  3. Responding to Calls to Action.
  4. Doing the work in a good way, on parallel paths.
  5. Indigenous Strategy (goals, principles, values, and recommendations) as guidance.
  6. Collaboration.
  7. Indigenous led.
  8. Support of Human Resources/Leadership. 

Members of Working Circle 3 - Intercultural Capacity Building

Additional Resources
Please see the URise Indigenous registration link:

Case Study 04
How to Maximize Flexibility With the Sustainable Meta Class

Prof. Dr. Bahar Baran

Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technology, Dokuz Eylul University, İzmir, Türkiye

Prof. Dr. Ayça Tokuç

Department of Architecture & Energy Application and Research Center (EUAM), Dokuz Eylul University, İzmir, Türkiye

Seda Nur Apdik

The Graduate School of Natural and Applied Science, M.Sc. in Structural Construction Design, Dokuz Eylul University, İzmir, Türkiye 
*Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. Bahar Baran, e-mail:

  • The Sustainable Meta Class design enables both physical and remote participation in the classroom in line with the need to overcome the space and time limits of learning processes that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It redesigned a classical learning environment by taking into account many criteria that positively affect human health and concentration.
  • The student-centred design incorporates indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, material selection, colours, ergonomics, flexibility, accessibility, and technology integration.
  • A student-centred and technology-supported learning space enables the implementation of diverse learning methodologies, offering flexibility and accessibility.

Keywords: learning spaces, hybrid education, sustainable design, flexible learning

The Meta Classroom is our contemporary answer to ‘How will the classroom of the future be?’. The Sustainable Meta Classroom Project explores how an ordinary university classroom with desks and rows of chairs facing a whiteboard can be developed into an engaging hybrid learning environment. This issue became prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a team of educators, civil engineers, and architects worked on the design and application of this pilot project. The class design and application is at Dokuz Eylül University Distance Education Application and Research Center. The Meta Classroom model integrates sustainability-oriented design concepts and innovative technologies in education to create more flexible and collaborative hybrid learning spaces. 

Learning Space Improvement and Redesign
In developing the Meta Classroom design, there are many criteria such as space design, material selection, furniture design, indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, and colour selection. The design considered these elements since the opinions of the students and educators in the university deemed them significant. The planning of the classroom combines different functions in the space and creates spaces suitable for nine different learning preferences. The classroom has three main parts: a hybrid learning space, a learning studio, and a learning commons. 

Meta Class plan and the different areas in the classroom.

After developing the earlier design with the multidisciplinary core project team, we got feedback through workshops with students and educators from different departments and tweaked the design. The two-partite classroom design, the limited number of in-class students, and a coffee station at the learning commons were the most controversial feedback topics since some deemed them necessary and some unsuitable. While they were in line with the needs of the distance education centre, many other departments had other requirements.

Sustainability and health concerns are particularly prominent in the Meta Classroom's physical design. Indoor air quality impacts and recyclability in the classroom environment were factors that were carefully considered in the selection of materials. We conducted energy and daylight simulations during the material selection process. The materials selected for the floor, ceiling, walls, and glazing minimized energy consumption and enhanced user thermal and visual comfort. Furniture design promotes student-centred environments and allows students to personalize their surroundings without excluding students with special needs. Flexible, ergonomic, and inclusive furniture designs increase student engagement and interaction in the classroom. We determined the design's colours considering the effects of colours on classroom environments and human psychology. We preferred orange tones, predominantly warm colours, and blue tones, cold colours, in a well-balanced combination. We chose colours suitable for classroom design, focusing on concentration and relaxation while decreasing monotonicity with the colour palette. 

Technology Integrated Hybrid Education Environment
As a hybrid learning space, the Meta Classroom goes beyond classic classrooms and integrates various technologies that encourage innovative learning methods. Interactive boards, digital screens, and audio-visual systems facilitate dynamic and engaging educational delivery, appeal to different learning styles, and encourage active participation. The interactive whiteboards and screens used in the Meta Classroom provide a hybrid learning environment for those beyond the classroom to participate in the lesson in the design, divided into two parts by a partition.

Visuals from the lessons.

The Meta Classroom can serve nine types of use, supported by spatial design to apply multiple hybrid and blended approaches. Meta Class has various sensors to gather crucial environmental data, including the amount of light, the concentration of airborne particles, indoor temperature, and humidity levels. This data is processed on a central server and the data and control mechanisms objects are connected online. Also, the users in the classroom can easily manipulate the lighting system and window shutter settings through Meta Classroom's predefined web interface. This technological integration facilitates the customization of natural and artificial illumination within the classroom space, effectively accommodating users' diverse needs and preferences. Virtual reality allows the classroom to extend beyond the physical boundaries by virtually increasing the classroom area. The place of each individual can be determined in the class and used to create the environment they prefer with artificial intelligence algorithms. The tests on these aspects of the classroom continue with feedback from real-life lessons. 

Recommendations for others who would like to set up/do something similar
  • The user requirements are very varied and controversial. Although it is possible to implement many design elements in other departments, a thorough user analysis is necessary before starting. Focusing on the end objective of the classes, workshops, and meetings can be key in selecting design and technological elements.
  • A suitable design requires feedback in not only one stage of design but many stages. Improvement through feedback continues through feedback during use, and implementing feedback mechanisms is necessary.
  • Integrating smartphones into the infrastructure empowers students to be more comfortable in the environment. It also allows them to share data with the class quickly and be more active during class.

This study is the output of the "Sustainable Meta Classroom Model in Effective Educational Processes" project supported by the Dokuz Eylül University Department of Scientific Research Project with the number SBA-2023-3045.

We would like to thank Deputy Secretary General Special Representative of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) to the Republic of Turkey Prof. Dr. Nükhet Hotar, for her contribution. We would like to thank Dokuz Eylül University researchers in our project team Prof. Dr. Esra Bukova Güzel, Prof. Dr. H. Murat Tanarslan, Lecturer Serkan Akdoğan, Lecturer Phd. Emre Karagöz, Lecturer Phd. L. Özge Güney, Lecturer Phd. Cem Yıldız, Lecturer Phd. Özgür Bozdağ, Lecturer Şirin Nur Yacı, Lecturer Deniz Eraslan and Aylin Dizdaroğlu, for their contributions to our study.

Additional Resources
You can follow the latest news about the meta classroom and have a virtual tour in our website

Case Study 05
Peoples-uni: Online Learning for Public Health Capacity Building in the Global South

Richard F. Heller

Universities of Newcastle Australia and Machester United Kingdom

  • A fully online programme was developed to build public health capacity in the Global South, outside the traditional higher education system.
  • Master’s courses leading to the Master of Public Health as well as open online courses for continuing professional development were offered.
  • Tutors were volunteers from 55 countries, joined by alumni from the master’s programmeAlumni joined in collaborative research.
  • The curriculum and courses were published with Creative Commons licences and the programme was adopted by four other organisations after the closure of Peoples-uni.
  • Students and tutors valued the experience which has the potential to be applied in other settings.

Keywords: online learning, capacity building, developing countries, volunteerism, technology transfer

The People’s Open Access Initiative (Peoples-uni was a response to the high fees charged to international students by many countries in the Global North and the need to build global public health capacity. It was facilitated by the spread of access to the internet. Peoples-uni was established as charity in the UK, and relied on volunteer tutors (Heller et al., 2022). The core activity was master’s level education, but many students enrolled in individual modules for their continuing professional development and a sister site offered open online courses especially for continuing professional development.

Between 2007 and 2015, a total of 429 individuals had acted as tutors, from 55 countries. Tutors formed module development teams, including at least one person from a low- to middle-income country, and then morphed into the tutors delivering the module. We found that the published competency lists for public health were largely not relevant to our audience, and over time developed a suite of modules that covered both the foundation sciences of public health and a series of public health problems relevant to populations in developing countries. Altogether we offered 19 modules and a dissertation with abundant choices to encourage students to select modules that were appropriate for their setting and own professional development.

There were no entry criteria and many students tried courses but found the academic level, time commitment or internet access too hard. 562 students, from 66 countries, passed at least one module (a further 1174 enrolled but did not pass a module) and 159 gained an MPH award - either from Peoples-uni or one of our academic partners. Students were asked to pay very low fees, with bursaries to those who could not afford them (Machingura et al., 2019). An evaluation (Sridharan et al., 2018) and student feedback were most encouraging - here are a sample of the quotes in response to a message that Peoples-uni was closing:

“Peoples-uni help me as the foundation for my academic career!!!” 

“I am however grateful for the opportunity that you and your team provided to us on this unique platform. To learn and empower us with world class education in public health at a very affordable rate which is exclusive reserve for the rich.”

“My life and professional carrier have been impacted positively by you and your colleague. The exposure to your courses has brought me out of my clinician mindset and led me to a combined experience in public health and clinical service. The skill has helped me in my work in the ministry of health top management and as a clinical researcher in the academic world.” 

The open online courses site offered 32 courses and 4259 students enrolled in 7007 courses, as a number of students took more than one course. Students could self enrol and access the courses at any time. Students came from 155 countries and completion rate was 25%.

A number of alumni became tutors on the programme, an alumni group was formed (Heller et al., 2015) leading to collaborative research publications (Machingura et al., 2014; Musa et al., 2019), and organisations including alumni leaders arose after the closure of Peoples-uni to help put learned skills into practice. We know of four other organisations who have taken the curriculum and courses (each published under a Creative Commons licence) to use in their settings – all are based in or targeted to students from the Global South.

87% of the master’s students came from the Global South, compared with 17% of the tutors and 43% of the open online course students. Alert to the concerns about colonisation of education, we ensured that the Global South was represented among both the course developers and tutors and the course resources and their authors, and we encouraged alumni and others to make use of the courses and materials in their own settings.

Geographical distribution of master’s students.*

Geographical distribution of tutors.*

Geographical distribution of open online course students.*

Essential to this work is online global access to information through educational technology. The theme of this series is hybrid education, but we were fully online and the only face-to-face contact was occasional Skype contact between tutors and students and meetings of tutors. The internet offers the ability for elearning – the basis for this and future work to distribute education where and when it is needed.

The potential role of volunteers is also under appreciated in the provision of higher education (Heller 2023). Our tutors enjoyed the engagement and benefited from it. Comments from tutors when we wrote about the closure of Peoples-uni included:

“This email also brought back for me so many happy memories of my own learning as a Peoples-uni tutor, all thanks to you. It was my first real experience of leading a module and was such a good experience for teaching in my current job.” 

“I wanted to express my gratitude to you for giving us the teachers and the students the opportunity of being involved in such a valuable initiative. Witnessing its development from its conception has been a wonderful experience for me. It has been an encouraging experience for those who have ideals.” 

And from one of the alumni who became a tutor:

“I am feeling to have hiccups after reading the email. I do not know what to say because I enjoyed/learnt a lot from this ‘Peoples-uni family’.” 

Apart from those organisations who have taken and used our courses and curriculum, we are not aware of other similar enterprises. We have shown that a volunteer led organisation, outside the formal education sector, can contribute to global capacity building by distributing education online. I encourage others to explore similar opportunities.

Heller, R. F., Machingura, P. I., Musa, B. M., Sengupta, P., et al. (2015). Mobilising the alumni of a Master of Public Health degree to build research and development capacity in low- and middle-income settings: The Peoples-uni. Health Research Policy and Systems, 13(71).

Heller, R. F., Barrett, A., Oaiya, O., Heller, J. and Madhok, R. (2022). Final Report of a Novel and Successful Online Public Health Capacity Building Experiment – Peoples-uni. Open Praxis, 14(1), 83-92.  

Heller R. F. (2022). Solutions. Section 3.4 Utilise Volunteers as Untapped Educators. In: The Distributed University for Sustainable Higher Education. SpringerBriefs in Education. Springer, Singapore. 

Machingura, P. I., Adekola, O., Mueni, E., Oaiya, O., et al. (2014). Perceived Value of Applying Information Communication Technology to Implement Guidelines in Developing Countries; an Online Questionnaire Study Among Public Health Workers. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 6(2).

Machingura, P. I., Shantikumar, S., Babalola, O. S., & Heller, R. F. (2019). Does a Bursary Scheme for Students in Low- to Middle-income Countries Influence Outcomes in a Master’s Programme in Public Health? MedEdPublish, 8, 122.

Musa, B. M., Ibekwe, E., Mwale, S., Eurien, D., et al. (2019). HIV treatment and Monitoring Patterns in Routine Practice: A Multi-country Retrospective Chart Review of Patient Xare. F1000Research, 7, 713.

Sridharan, S., Bondy, M., Nakaima, A., & Heller, R. F. (2018). The Potential of an Online Educational Platform to Contribute to Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: A Mixed-methods Evaluation of the Peoples-uni Online Platform. Health Research Policy and Systems, 16, 106. 

All figures from Heller, R. F., Barrett, A., Oaiya, O., Heller, J., & Madhok, R. (2022). Final Report of a Novel and Successful Online Public Health Capacity Building Experiment – Peoples-uni. Open Praxis, 14(1), 83-92. - published under a CC BY 4.0 licence. 

Case Study 06
Transforming Design Critiques: Hybrid and Virtual Approaches in Graduate Studios

Jason Shields 

Assistant Professor, Department of Interior Design, Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba, Canada

  • Hybrid teaching model integrated during COVID-19.
  • Virtual reality technology used to explore the studio critique process.
  • Explored new methods of delivering online education to design students.
  • Leaveraged advanced technologies for practical architectural solutions.
  • Examined detailed design aspects and builds upon the fundamentals of interior design.

Keywords: hybrid teaching, virtual reality, interior design, architectural technologies, 3D representation

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Interior Design graduate program at the University of Manitoba adopted a hybrid teaching approach, enabling students to experience their work in immersive 3D environments. This innovative method, led by Assistant Professor Jason Shields in the Interior Design Masters Studio (IDES-7200), aimed to enhance the visualization and critical analysis of student designs. Traditionally reviewed in person, these designs required alternative approaches due to the pandemic.

In December 2020, nine Master’s of Interior Design students participated in this new critique method, converting their Autodesk Revit architectural models into immersive, navigable ‘virtual interior environments’. These environments allowed real-time 3D visualization, where students could explore each other's designs using personalized avatars. This approach was inclusive, accommodating users with or without virtual reality headsets.

The virtual environments were accessible via web links, permitting up to 30 guests to explore the models simultaneously. Avatars with name tags facilitated coordination and interaction during reviews. The digital platform supported synchronous measurement, annotation, and inspection, enabling detailed technical discussions. Features such as object properties, material analysis, and daylighting simulations enriched the evaluative process.

Students created guided 3D tours of their designs, showcasing their work to instructors, peers, and industry professionals. Users navigated the virtual space using laptops, desktops, tablets, or VR headsets, promoting equitable participation. While VR headsets provided the most immersive experience, the setup was accessible to all students regardless of their technological means or physical location.

Future plans include further VR/AR integration and increased collaboration with other departments and industry professionals. This hybrid approach addressed the challenges of remote learning and paved the way for broader, more inclusive engagement in architectural education. By leveraging this digital framework, the graduate studio fostered stronger relationships during a time of isolation. It enhanced the critical analysis of student work, ensuring an immersive and engaging educational experience despite the constraints of the pandemic. 

Recommendations for others who would like to set up/do something similar:
  • Be sure to test the technology beforehand with some colleagues. Like any new technology, issues often occur during your first few attempts.
  • Ensure your students have a computer or laptop to work with the software. Ideally, set a test date before critiques so that everyone can confirm that the software and connection work on their device. A stable WIFI/Ethernet connection is required.
  • Remember that many individuals will have different levels of familiarity with this type of technology and navigating 3D space; consider providing a tutorial or literature for students to review before their first ‘virtual critique’.
  • The example (IrisVR) platform did not have audio/video communication built-in. Consider augmenting with software like Zoom, Teams, or other platforms.
  • Invite guests from aligned backgrounds and disciplines. Due to the virtual nature of this teaching method, it allows individuals to join from their current location, reducing travel and increasing the likelihood of international collaboration.


The author would like to acknowledge funding from the Faculty of Architecture for the VR LAB and the Faculty of Architecture’s SIEF fund for assisting in acquiring software and hardware. 

University of Manitoba (2021, March 08). Collaborative Architectural Reviews – Virtual Interior Environments, Virtual Communication, and Virtual Reality.

Case Study 07
Cene: An Alternate Realtiy Game About Climate Change

Dr. Patrick Jagoda and Heidi Coleman

University of Chicago, United States 

  • A three-week mixed-reality alternate reality game about climate change.
  • Created for over 350 middle school students at three Chicago schools.
  • Hybrid format that included websites, online chats, livestreaming interactions, and in-person team-based work.
  • All players completed over 2,500 team-based quests.
  • Major quests were introduced by University of Chicago faculty area-specific experts via videos.
  • A science fiction narrative encouraged speculative design work about the future of climate change and environmental science. 

Keywords: ARG (alternate reality game), climate change, livestreaming, netprov, quests, serious game, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)

Cene is an alternate reality game that was developed as a three-week climate change module for middle school environmental science curricula and was piloted in three schools in Chicago. The intervention was hybrid, including online quests, network improvisation and livestreaming interactions with actors, and in-person team-based work.

In May 2021, the Fourcast Lab ran a two-week preliminary research process to establish the feasibility of creating an alternate reality game that could be run in and beyond middle school science classrooms. We worked with teachers to integrate the game into the existing curriculum and to incorporate key vocabulary and concepts into the quests that would make up the game.

In February and March of 2022, we ran the Cene alternate reality game. Over 350 middle school students at Bret Harte Elementary, University of Chicago Woodlawn Charter, and the Laboratory Schools completed over 2,500 team-based quests that created opportunities for learning about climate change and environmental science. Each player participated on a small team that would complete quests together. Teams scored points for each quest they completed, marking their position on a leaderboard that was unique to each school. Via challenges conveyed through live streaming, websites, and in-person interactions, student-players engaged in a narrative, meeting the Keepers: curators of the Possibility Space, a multiverse that contains countless possible future Earths. The Keepers identified a potential threat called the Darkness, a cosmic-level natural disaster that threatened to destroy all possible futures. With the help of the Fourcast Lab, players encountered twelve possible futures of climate change and helped to fight off the Darkness. The worlds they explored included dystopian, utopian, and weird futures. Along the way, they held off a villainous group known as the Veilers.

The Cene game focused on applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) knowledge, as well as media art and design skills. We used techniques from the arts, humanities, and design in order to teach transferable skills (e.g., organization, teamwork, collaboration, and creativity) and knowledge (e.g., information about climate change and the scientific method). Students also used speculative design techniques to imagine better futures and pathways to reach them. 

Cene was created by the Fourcast Lab. This is a transmedia design collective based at The University of Chicago that creates Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), pervasive games, cross-platform stories, and networked performances all of which are played across hybrid contexts. While core members now include Heidi Coleman, Marc Downie, Patrick Jagoda, Ben Kolak, and Ashlyn Sparrow, the Lab’s influence reaches far beyond these designers to include many University of Chicago faculty and staff as well as project-specific professional artists from the Chicago-area. Our other projects include, the game-based interactive performance piece Encounter (2023-2024), an alternate reality game for a work environment Duck Variations (2022), two alternate reality games about COVID-19 ECHO (2020) and A Labyrinth (2020), a first-year orientation alternate reality game about climate change Terrarium (2019), and an orientation alternate reality game about diversity and inclusion the parasite (2017).

Recommendations for others who would like to set up/do something similar 
  • For an in-school alternate reality game to work effectively, it is important to first establish a robust network of game designers, technologists, performers, area specialists, teachers, and participating schools. Organization is half the battle.
  • Create pathways through a game for different types of learners. Players are motivated by different levels of engagement, including narrative, roleplaying, puzzles, media making, collaborative team play, healthy competition, and more. Instead of choosing among these paths, consider creating different features for different players.
  • Once a hybrid game is running, lean into improvisation. Take the ideas of players seriously and “yes and” whenever you can, even if it requires departing from your plan for gameplay, narrative, or certain learning objectives.
  • Since alternate reality games are ephemeral, document gameplay as much as possible through videos and photos. Use interviews or surveys to learn more about the efficacy of your game.
  • For more about the logistics of creating an alternate reality game, see this extended online chapter that includes an extended case study:


  • Game Directors: Patrick Jagoda and Heidi Coleman
  • Web Designer and Quest Execution Lead: Ashlyn Sparrow
  • Platform and Video Design: Marc Downie
  • Filmmaker and Cinematographer: Ben Kolak
  • Producers: Heidi Coleman and Patrick Jagoda
  • Quest Designers: Heidi Coleman, Patrick Jagoda, and Ashlyn Sparrow
  • Writer: Patrick Jagoda
  • Puzzle Designer: Sandor Weisz
  • Illustrator: Sarah Gavagan
  • Sculptor and Visual Artist: Samantha Rausch
  • Scenic Designer: Jessica Wardell
  • Lighting Designer: Brandon Wardell
  • Costume Designer: Nathan Rohrer
  • Teacher Leads: Tony Del Campo (Laboratory School), Mariah Harper (UChicago Charter Woodlawn), and Adam Schwartz (CPS Bret Hart)
  • Research: Kristen Schilt and Lauren Beard
  • Lead Actor (Keeper Assistant): Madeleine Lambert
  • Video Quest Actors: Eman Abdelhadi, David Archer, Neil Brenner, Katherine Buse, James Evans, Julian Go, Daniel Holz, Amir Jina, Edwin Kite, Lisa Moore, Sabina Shaikh, and Tiffany Shaw
  • Netprov Actors: Patrick Jagoda and Heidi Coleman
  • Veiler Actors and Quest Student Assistants: Noor Amin, Steele Citrone, Nico Giunta, Jack Hoppus, Counti McCutchen, Bruno Pasquinelli, and Jiahe Wang
  • Special Thanks: Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, Franke Institute for the Humanities, University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement, UChicago Arts, Laboratory Schools, Bret Harte, UChicago Charter Woodlawn, and Jennifer Kennedy

  • Overview of Cene:
  • Ten-Minute Documentary about Cene:
  • Article about the Cene alternate reality game:
  • Other Hybrid Game Experience by the Fourcast Lab: