Professor Elina Gertsman Awarded Expanding Horizons Interdisciplinary Grant

Congratulations to Professor Elina Gertsman, who was awarded a large Expanding Horizons Interdisciplinary grant for her project that aims to build a series of interconnected mixed-reality spaces — spaces that would provide multisensory, embodied experiences for its users. Entitled “Immersive Realms and Cognition: Multisensory Approaches to Teaching with The HoloLens,” the project builds on and expands the horizons of the venture that Prof. Gertsman began to develop as a Fellow of the Interactive Commons: mixed reality (MR) learning environments populated with a range of interactive medieval objects available for student study. In the app, students are able to “grasp” these holographic objects, enlarge them in order to see every possible detail, see them in different lighting conditions, and enact their original use by “holding” them in their hands. Medieval chants and troubadour music recorded by graduate students from the Music Department at CWRU as well as strategically placed incense burners provide additional immersion into these spaces. The present project intends to introduce a haptic element into the mix, bringing world-building inherent in the development of MR spaces to an entirely new level. Gertsman and her co-PI, Fey Parrill (Department of Cognitive Science) will collaborate with the Interactive Commons staff to map existing holographic models onto several physical objects in order to bring embodied cognition and active learning models predicated on gesture as a crucial mode of learning to the heart of the MR experience. Graduate students will work with Prof. Gertsman to provide assistance with fieldwork as well as with archival research; both graduate and undergraduate students will be involved in testing and mapping user experiences at various junctures of the venture.