Creation and Innovation in King Library

Project Title: Creation and Innovation in King Library

Long Title (if desired): Increasing Access to Creation and Innovation Services in King Library

Project Lead's Name: Sarah Nagle

Project Lead's Email:

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-7205

Project Lead's Division: ULB

Primary Department: Libraries

Other Team Members and their emails:

  • Philippe J. Giabbanelli, Associate Professor, Computer Science and Software Engineering -
  • Elias Tzoc, Department Head for Create and Innovate, University Libraries -

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal: This proposal has the potential to benefit many other departments, as our services are available to all faculty and students. Specif1e departments and units that we have consulted and worked with for this proposal include:

  • Computer Science and Software Engineering
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Center for Research in Usability
  • Humanities Center
  • Global Initiatives
  • Visualization and Virtual Reality Lab
  • Center for Analytics and Data Science
  • Office of Research for Undergraduates
  • Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 1,000

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 100

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem: The University Library System has traditionally provided access to high-end and specialized labs for all students. Driven by the need for more maker and creative opportunities across disciplines, this year we launched a Makerspace as well as a Visualization and Virtual Reality Lab in King Library. Through conversations with faculty from many departments (Computer Science and Software Engineering, Biochemistry, Interactive Media Studies, Spanish and Portuguese, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, etc.), we quickly noted the need for more equipment to keep up with the growing demand for hands-on, interactive and experiential learning opportunities.

Specifically, we seek to improve inclusivity and reduce barriers to access to the maker space; expand our teaching lab and AV labs to cope with the expectations of students and faculty, and leverage the investments already made in our Virtual Reality Lab to deliver a superior experience to our students. Our specific approach on each of these core objectives is as follows:

  • Provide a superior experience by leveraging our strong position in Virtual Reality. In fields ranging from marketing to public health and educational research, it is important to know how the audience physically interacts with the information. What do they examine? What captures their attention in a product or an environment? This requires the use of eye-tracking technologies, which measure the position and movements of the eyes. We will use modern virtual reality eye-tracking technologies along with professional data analytics software to accurately track what users see, in an unobtrusive manner. Specifically, we will leverage virtual-reality headsets to capture interactions with a simulated 30 environment. Data will be analyzed with professional software (Tobii), which makes the analysis accessible to students and faculty in a variety of projects from marketing research (customers' reactions to products) to public health (patients' navigation of a health-related simulation space or virtual app).
  • Expand technology in our teaching lab to cope with student demand during an essential stage of the fabrication process. We will add 6 laptops and 6 Oculus Quest VR headsets to our teaching lab, which will allow us to effectively v«>rk and teach (3D and VR concepts using specialized software) with classes that have 12-24 students. Many of the projects require a design element that must be completed on a computer before fabricating the objects. The laptop lab will allow for classes to complete design work in the Makerspace before creating projects on the machinery. The Oculus Quest VR headsets will additionally allow mobility for our virtual reality capabilities and allow more students to experience virtual reality at once, making it possible for faculty to use virtual experiences as an alternative to traditional labs or class activities.
  • Improve inclusivity and address barriers to access for the maker space. In researching inclusivity in maker spaces, we have discovered that fees and costs, no matter how small, can be a barrier to access for many people. Moreover, in recent conversations with faculty, we have learned that it is in our best interest to avoid any fees that can potentially raise questions about Miami's Tuition Promise plan. We will provide supplies for 3D printing, CNC milling, paper, and vinyl cutting, and access to high-end software to students for the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters.
  • Meet modern standards and expectations from students and faculty. This lab is the default place for audio and video projects In the library. It is consistently used by students and other campus units working on promotional materials; however, the current hardware requires upgrades. We will upgrade the video cameras and add extra sound-proofing capabilities in our AV lab.

While it is true that VR experiences and 3D printing are available elsewhere, the Libraries intend to make these skills universally available to all students from every discipline on campus. The opportunities to be involved in these experiences will be made know in order to enhance learning for all students.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project: The University Library System has embarked on a significant effort to provide access to innovative spaces and services that are essential to keep up with larger trends in academia. The Makerspace, Virtual Reality, and other labs in King Library are extremely innovative spaces with the potential to transform the way that the Miami University community interacts with and benefits from new and creative opportunities for active, experiential, and cross-disciplinary learning.

The innovation and significance of each of the four initiatives in this proposal include:

  • The interest in integrating technologies such as virtual, augmented, immersive, and mixed reality continues to grow and impact many industries. According to a report by Goldman Sachs, by 2025, the number of educational users using VR/AR headsets will jump to an estimated 15 million. By 2021, Gartner predicts that 60% of higher education institutions will use virtual reality technology to create immersive learning environments. While several labs and libraries across the nation are investing in virtual reality, the focus has often been to provide the technology while overlooking its use. Our proposal is particularly innovative as we go further than providing access to virtual reality: we equip students and faculty with cutting-edge tools to precisely capture and understand how they interact with immersive virtual environments. Adding eye-tracking technologies and professional data analytics software thus goes a step further in providing a comprehensive virtual reality solution on campus. Capturing, analyzing and understanding interactions will unlock new opportunities for projects across departments, such as marketing, psychology, games, or public health.
  • Leading hands-on sessions and workshops are part of the learning process and while we rely mainly on web-based and open source software for our maker projects; there are several projects that will require special/proprietary software such as Adobe Illustrator. Additionally, there are many learning opportunities that will rely on virtual reality experiences, such as virtual lab experiences for students in the sciences. For those special cases, we need to find ways to eliminate any potential barriers that will limit students to become participants and contributors to the new knowledge ecosystem. According to the NMC Horizon Report: 2018 Higher Education Edition, "The embedding of maker culture In higher education has made students active contributors to the knowledge ecosystem. They learn by experiencing, doing, and creating, demonstrating newly acquired skills in more concrete and creative ways." We have also learned that most classes we are working with this semester have more than 10 students and not everyone has a laptop available for a session or workshop. Thus, we believe that by adding 6 new laptops and 6 Oculus Quests to our teaching lab, we will have the capability for groups of 12 students to work independently and for larger groups to work in teams of 2-3 students. This will allow more students across the Miami campus to benefit from the innovative maker space teaching and learning opportunities available at the libraries.
  • The Makerspace is an extremely Innovative space with the potential to expose students from a wide array of majors to high-end technology and spur a new generation of scholarship as students discover new creative pursuits. A Campus 2025 report by EAB included Makerspaces as one of the seven key facility trends that will have the biggest impact on campuses in the next decade. As we continue to work with faculty and brainstorm/integrate maker activities into the undergraduate curriculum, we need to find ways to empower student creativity without adding barriers such as extra fees. In a study that involved interviews of seven human-centered designers, DiMitri Higginbotham (2018) explained that cost barriers are one of the four main barriers to equity and diversity in maker spaces. Reducing economic barriers for the maker and educational activities is an important action plan in order to: a) guarantee equal access to all Miami students in the short-term; and b) develop an economic and sustainable model for the long-term.
  • There are multiple reasons why more faculty are integrating audiovisual assignments into their classes. Media production can engage a variety of tech and planning skills, deepen student participation, publish assignments after the end of the semester, enrich student portfolios, etc. A 2019 Cisco Report on Internet Traffic forecasts that by 2022 Internet video traffic will be 80% of all Internet traffic. With the anticipated need for more and better video quality for learning and teaching activities, we need to replace the current cameras and add extra sound-proofing capabilities. The AV studio already features multiple backdrops, teleprompters, and lighting. Adding new video cameras and extra sound-proofing capabilities will make the AV Studio a state-of-the-art facility for audio and video production. While an updated AV Studio will directly benefit students, the changes will also benefit others who use it for creating video promotions for their units -those will include the CAS Communication Office, Admission Office, Scripps Gerontology Center, and the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute.

How will you assess the success of the project: The assessment of success will start with quantitative data, we will continue to track attendance in the labs, as well as participants in classes and workshops. We will collect anecdotal stories of success in the form of qualitative data. Additionally, we are will create surveys and ask faculty and students for their feedback. Transforming this project into sustainable practices will also be an essential component of our assessment plan, as we will plan applications for external grants that will further extend and secure the new services for the Miami campus going forward.

Financial Information

Total Amount Requested: $45,000

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project aligns with University, Divisional, Departmental or Center strategic goals: As Miami University embraces the Boldly Creative initiatives and establishes a plan for the University Strategic Priorities, the University Libraries strive to provide spaces and services that give the Miami community the right opportunities to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create new knowledge. For instance, capturing and understanding how users interact with immerse virtual environments in our Virtual Reality Lab will improve the use of the technology while supporting new research and usability opportunities across disciplines. Funding for this proposal will also position the library to play an even larger role in the 11innovate"  group of recommendations listed in the University Strategic Plan.