According to Mike Mathews, Vice President of Technology and Innovation at Oral Roberts University (ORU), we live in a fluid world, with fluid economies, fluid governments, fluid education systems, and fluid jobs. “This means if we want to meet the needs of a fluid world, our education and technology needs to be nimble to flow with students,” he says. “We are all moving forward at a fast pace, and to just ‘do technology’ is the wrong approach. We have to creatively find ways to leverage technology that creates less confusion, ease of use, and make studies more gratifying.” Under Mike’s leadership, ORU received Ellucian’s 2018 EllumiNation Technology Award, which recognizes higher education visionaries that are driving change with campus technology. Mike is aggressively advancing the University forward in several areas, which include reaching students globally with ORU’s whole person education through advanced learning with augmented and virtual reality.
" ORU opened its Global Learning Center with a major focus on reaching every one of the 195 nations with teleportation, augmented and virtual reality learning experiences. "
For Mike, it made perfect sense to transform education using advanced and immersive learning with augmented and virtual reality. In 2017, ORU opened its Global Learning Center with a major focus on reaching every one of the 195 nations with teleportation, augmented and virtual reality learning experiences. “We were opening a major digital highway through ORU where anyone in the world could begin to access over 500,000 learning environments via their smart phones, theatre screens, or remote classrooms,” adds Mike. During this period of time, ORU went from serving students from 85 nations to 108 nations; and 185 nations accessing their digital content. The next logical step in this journey is to embrace the concept of Virtual Classrooms as offered by Barco.
According to Mike, what makes Augmented and Virtual Reality so compelling is that it truly engages students with their personal assistant called a smart phone. “For example, we have about 12 smart virtual spaces in Pakistan that we reach into three times a week. The space is designed with the very integrated technologies that accommodate the people in Pakistan; including translating the English language into their Urdu language,” explains Mike. “At the same time, we have a virtual collaboration room that can accommodate in-person students and remote students.”
In his nearly three decades of managing technology, Mike has never witnessed a technology with the ability to make such a transformation. He wanted to create a global vision for technology to reach every corner of the earth with education, hence, ORU trademarked the term ORU GeoVision Technologies. An example of the vision, ORU has teleportation robots that can drive on campus or sit on a table top to allow any student who has had a ‘fluid event’ in their life such as a car accident, surgery, job change, visa status change – still connect to their class via their smart phone or tablet. The design of the Global Learning Center with their GeoVision concept allows students numerous methods to access the 500,000 learning environments. They can choose to use their smart phones, tablets, or computers to access the environment directly or through our Learning Management System (D2L).
The next major application that students will interact with personal data, global-communications, self-navigation, self-help, data analytics, music, video, education, fitness, artificial intelligence and robotic functionality will be the glass mirror. “The new form-factor of a glass mirror has all the attributes to make it the single largest shift in human-to-digital-and-visual interaction,” says Mike. “The glass mirror combined with the small new computer design hidden within the mirror frame has made significant advancements in personal fitness by combining the mirror, smartphone, and wearable watch.” All three synchronized together provide a premier digital experience that accesses personal data, AI, machine learning data, personal trainers, eCourses, and text to speech narration.
Mike also believes in socializing students using group based activities like those provided by Barco’s WeConnect Active Learning solution. “The delivery system for all of this can be synchronous or asynchronous, but in the end, using Active learning spaces, either virtual or real, will give the students the social skills and real world experience they need to function in a professional environment. Exposing students to this type of instruction gives them the confidence to integrate and excel in their post education life.”
Mike Mathews, Vice President of Technology & Innovation
ORU has been ranked back-to-back as one of the best universities in the west by both Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report?