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Getting smarter with Virtual & Augmented Reality


Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes. For the latest updates regarding corona virus, please check this link.

Topics: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality, education, learning, human-computer interaction, human factors, media philosophy, artificial intelligence, programming, 3D, hybrid intelligence.
Disciplines: Computer science, philosophy, psychology, media studies.
Skills: Concept development, coding, popular scientific writing, 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.


In what ways will Augmented Reality change the way we solve problems and communicate with each other? How can we learn through Virtual Reality? How do you design valuable VR & AR applications?

In this course we will study how VR can be used for training and education, for example to:

  • collaborate in VR for distance education;

  • explore archaeological sites;

  • analyse atoms and molecules in 3D or

  • see 360 footage of political protests.

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.

This course has its own online learning platform, where you can follow online courses asynchronously. That way we can have more interactive and practical physical classes to delve deeper into the material. You will experiment with VR & AR hardware and software and will work on your coding and design skills.

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

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 analysed 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 society;

  • have written a meaningful exploration of the future;

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

Programme and timetable:

All sessions will be on Tuesday evenings and start at 19:00 until 21:30.
The program will look as follows:

  • 19 Oct 19.00 - 21.30 - Experiencing Virtual & Argumented Reality + getting to know each other

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

  • 2 Nov – Skills: creating VR prototypes

  • 9 Nov – Learning through VR: why and how?

  • 16 Nov – The technology of Augmented Reality

  • 23 Nov – Augmenting Human Intellect

  • 30 Nov – Skills: creating AR prototypes

  • 7 Dec – Designing valuable applications with VR & AR

  • 14 Dec – Working on final project + team meetings

  • 21 Dec – Working on final project + team meetings

  • 18 Jan - Final project presentations


PLNT, 'The Playground', 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: 45 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. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

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

Registration process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 16 August 2021 up to and including Thursday 2 September 2021 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.


Robin de Lange +31 6 1195299