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Getting smarter with Virtual & Augmented Reality


Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes.

Topics: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, education, learning, human-computer interaction, human factors, philosophy of mind, media philosophy, artificial intelligence, intelligence amplification
Disciplines: Computer science, philosophy, psychology, media studies
Skills: Concept development, academic writing, coding, design thinking, creating 3D applications

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.


Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality offer powerful ways for students and professionals to learn. For example to:

  • explore archaeological sites;

  • analyze atoms and molecules in 3D;

  • see 360 footage of political protests, or

  • collaborate virtually for distance education.

But these emerging computer interfaces also bring new ways to solve problems. This raises interesting philosophical questions on augmenting human intelligence and what it means to be smart. But it also brings forward more applied questions on the demands of the workforce of tomorrow.

Although precise predictions vary, sometime in the next decade we'll have access to Augmented Reality glasses that we could potentially wear all day. This technology is expected to make 3D computer interfaces mainstream and a major way of interacting with the digital world.

It's hard to underestimate the effects this development will have on how we solve problems:

  • Engineers can get on-the-job support from experts on the other side of the world;

  • AR glasses could instantly translate texts in other languages, or caption conversations;

  • medical staff can be presented the right medical information needed to make a decision.

In this course you will be challenged to examine how AR and VR technology could change the ways people learn and solve problems. You will learn the skills needed to translate these ideas into future scenarios and Virtual and Augmented Reality prototypes.

For your final project you will work together with an organization and apply the knowledge you have gained for a real-world challenge.

This course will have short online classes mainly meant for interaction. A large part of the lectures and learning material can be followed asynchronous on our online platform. We will also schedule private meetings to help you with your final project.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • have a basic understanding of the technology of Virtual and Augmented Reality;

  • have an overview of (possible) applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality;

  • have gained basic coding and digital design skills to build 3D prototypes;

  • be able to work with the methods of design thinking;

  • have analyzed the possible effects of VR & AR on the ways humans learn and solve problems;

  • have identified ways in which these new computer interfaces will affect our culture;

  • have combined the skills and knowledge above to create a valuable final project for a real organization.

Programme and timetable:

All sessions will take place in PLNT, starting at 19:00 – 21:30.

The program will look as follows:

  • 6 Oct 19:00 – 21:30 – Experiencing Virtual & Augmented Reality + getting to know each other

  • 13 Oct – Virtual Reality: the technology and its applications

  • 20 Oct – Skills: creating VR prototypes

  • 27 Oct – Learning through VR: why and how?

  • 3 Nov – The technology of Augmented Reality

  • 10 Nov – Augmenting Human Intellect

  • 17 Nov – Skills: creating AR prototypes

  • 24 Nov – Designing valuable applications with VR & AR

  • 1 Dec – Individual project team meetings

  • 8 Dec – Individual project team meetings

  • 15 Dec 19:00 – 21:30 – Project presentations


All sessions will be held in PLNT in Leiden.

Reading list:

For this course we’ll read parts from:
Andy Clark – Natural-born Cyborgs
Donald Norman – The Design of Everyday Things
Thomas W. Malone – Superminds
Doug Engelbart – Augmenting Human Intelligence
Jeremy Bailenson – Experience on Demand

We’ll also make use of the material on the VR Learning HUB.
Other possible literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Lectures: 9 lectures of 2.5 hours = 22.5 hours

  • Meeting with real-world organizations = 3.5 hours

  • Literature reading and asynchronous online courses: 31 hours

  • Practical work: 10 hours

  • Essay assignment: 40 hours

  • Final project: 40 hours

Assessment methods:

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • 40% Essay assignment (individually, 2000 – 3000 words)

  • 60% Final project (groups)

Students can only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Students can register for the Brightspace module one week prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Registration process:

Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday 17 August 2020 up to and including Thursday 3 September 2020 through the Honours Academy. The registration link will be posted on the student website of the Honours Academy.


Robin de Lange +31 6 1195299