A silent revolution is unfolding across Ohio’s universities as virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies take center stage, reshaping how education is delivered and experienced. CenterGrid’s comprehensive Infrastructure Research in Higher ED reveals a considerable surge in demand for courses integrating advanced IT resources, heralding a fast-evolving era in higher education’s approach to preparing the workforce of tomorrow.

A Digital Leap in Learning

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transition to virtual realms, underscoring the urgent need for innovative educational methodologies. As traditional universities grapple with the rising tide of massive open online courses (MOOCs), which offer flexible, skill-based training, it’s become clear that embracing digital transformation is no longer optional but essential. Universities are under pressure to shi their focus from pursuing knowledge for knowledge’s sake to better align with the demands of the job market. This shi necessitates breaking down the silos between faculties and fostering collaboration with commerce and industry.

Unlocking VR/AR’s Educational Potential

Amid this backdrop, the potential of VR/AR technologies to revolutionize teaching methodologies remains largely untapped, and the study reveals that the current IT infrastructure within Ohio’s higher education sector is still a patchwork of capabilities.

Currently, only a select few Ohio universities offer dedicated VR/AR programs despite being home to some of the top-ranked animation schools in the nation. However, this is poised to change with several new courses slated for introduction in 2024, promising to enrich Ohio’s academic offerings.

The research, informed by data from Microso’s Copilot for Bing and industry reports, suggests a looming need for substantial ed-tech investments, particularly in computational resources like the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

Overcoming the Attitudinal Divide

The study also looks into the generational divide within university leadership and advocates for overcoming attitudinal barriers to technology adoption in academia. It spotlights the pressing need for a pedagogical shi towards VR/AR and gamification, paving the way for improved student engagement and outcomes.

While the research highlights challenges, it also serves as a call to action for Ohio’s higher education institutions as the findings emphasize the need for a collaborative approach to educational technology that aligns with environmental considerations and prepares students for the digital future.

A Required Visionary Platform Championing Sustainability and Innovation

Looking to the future, Virtual Studio Cloud offers an innovative solution, supporting universities as they adapt to new educational paradigms.

This platform grants access to high-performance cloud visualization computing, essential for courses in burgeoning fields such as VFX and CGI, positioning Ohio’s emerging workforce at the forefront of technological proficiency.

And very importantly, CenterGrid’s commitment extends beyond technology, emphasizing the need for sustainable and eco-friendly IT solutions. Their Virtual Studio Cloud is poised to contribute to Ohio’s Silicon Heartland initiative, fostering regional growth and sustainability.

As universities prepare for lab upgrades in Fall 2024, we encourage them to compare their plans with CenterGridʼs innovative, eco-friendly facilities within the Virtual Studio.

The Advantages for Educational Institutions, Students, and the State

Educational institutions can leverage advantages such as opting for OPEX over CAPEX purchases, evading data center upgrades for high-powered GPUs while staying current with technology without extra investments, and starting new courses swiftly in fast-growing fields like VFX, CGI, 3D Design, and Game Design.

Students can benefit from secure log-ins to the latest GPU workstations, avoiding the need for frequent laptop refreshes with the affordability of a single laptop.

Ohio State has the opportunity to explore an “As-a-Service” model as an alternative to funding over 100 individual school data centers equipped with GPU servers. This approach would allow the State to leverage the 50% renewable energy Green data center. By embracing this strategy, Ohio State can maintain its competitiveness within the high-tech job sector, which presently sustains over 60,000 jobs in Ohio, all while fostering growth within the Visualization Industry.

For a comprehensive understanding of CenterGrid’s research findings and their implications for the future of higher education in Ohio: