Vizible: A New Instructional Design Tool for Virtual Reality

November 10, 2017

Gabe Baker

Quick note: Vizible is a new instructional design tool that makes the creation of rich, interactive, collaborative VR content accessible for non-technical teachers, trainers, and students. You can sign up to try it for free here.

Setting the Stage

Currently, teachers use a variety of tools to create online learning content. These range from end-to-end content creation and delivery tools like Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline to more lightweight applications in Google Apps or Microsoft Office. Many online course platforms like Udemy, Thinkific, or Teachable also provide their own content creation tools, but they're not much more than file repositories with assessment options. 

All of these tools have definite strengths, and I've happily (for the most part) used all of them throughout my experience as an online teacher and instructional designer. That said, they all share one weakness for those that want to create content and learning environments for the platforms of the future: they don't offer any way to create learning content for virtual reality. The tools out there that do enable VR creation are often complicated and require programming skills that instructional designers and students don't have.

We don't think teachers, trainers, or students should need to have programming skills in order to create compelling VR content. That's why we're excited about Vizible, our VR creation and collaboration tool that gives instructional designers and teachers a way to craft compelling, VR-ready content for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PC. Beyond that, Vizible also lets you hold online classes or trainings inside of your virtual reality content with multi-user functionality. You can create a VR experience using the Vizible Presentation Designer, and then hold an online session inside of it with people from around the world. Let's dive deeper.

Vizible for Instructional Design

The Vizible Presentation Designer (PD) provides a purely visual interface for creating VR presentations. No coding required. In a lot of ways, Vizible PD is structured like PowerPoint, with a "slide" layout on the left and a view of the "scene" in the middle. In this virtual reality focused context, though, each "slide" is a 3D scene, not a 2D image. At the bottom of PD, below the slide view, you have an asset library, where you can store 3D models, 360 photos/videos, 2D videos, images, and pdfs. You can also record avatars with voice, gestures, and full interactivity and embed them in your presentation. Once you record an avatar, it gets saved in your asset library where you can then drag it into your presentation (a recorded avatar asset is circled in the below screenshot).

You've also got a few other assets that come with Vizible PD, like Proximity Sensors and other objects that let you add interactivity to the scene. To give you assets to play with as you're learning your way around PD, you can load up some of the template scenes. This automatically places all of the assets from those scenes in your asset library, letting you then use them as building blocks for your own scenes.

Once you drag assets from the asset library into your slides, you can position, rotate, and scale them however you'd like. This means you can scale up a car engine to make it easier for people viewing the presentation to get a close look at its insides, for example. When you drag in 360 photos or videos, they'll appear as small orbs which can be expanded by viewers in the presentation. 2D media like traditional images, videos, and pdfs will show up on 2D planes and you simply drag them around the scene to arrange them how you want. Below is a scene I'm making with an embedded 360 video, which appears as a small orb to your viewers until they expand it out when immersed in the experience.

We're fully transparent about the fact that Vizible Presentation Designer is not as feature-rich and extensible as a game engine like Unity 3D or the Unreal Engine. This is by design. We want Presentation Designer to be a tool that teachers, trainers, and students can use even if they don't have a technical background.

Assets like Proximity Sensors and Time Sensors let you build in interactivity that you can use in support of the learning goals you have for your audience. Here are just a few ways:

  • Let the user progress through the experience only when they've moved certain objects in the scene to specific targets, pressed certain buttons, or moved to specific places.
  • Trigger recorded avatars or audio to play if the user triggers certain Sensors - for example a user that places an object in the right space or clicks the right button might hear one audio clip, but if they put it in the wrong space they hear a different one.
  • Set an object to appear only after a certain amount of time has elapsed; a user who might be struggling and so unable to progress could get help that appears after 5 minutes has gone by, for example.
  • If you want the VR experience to be more exploratory and non-linear for viewers, you can use Proximity Sensors to create a basic UI, letting them press buttons to transport them to different scenes

This is just scratching the surface of the possibilities the Vizible Presentation Designer. We're seeing people create extraordinary things already.

A recorded avatar shows viewers how to pack a Vive. Users can then do it themselves.

Viewing Vizible Presentations in Virtual Reality

When people are inside your Vizible Presentation from a VR headset or desktop, they have a presenter tool that lets them navigate through the "slides" in your presentation. If people are meeting inside the presentation for collaborative viewing, they can also use drawing tools, laser pointers, and other tools. The voice chat is spatialized, so if you're viewing the presentation with others you're able to break into small groups.

You can also use Presentation Designer to set the default tools that are enabled for users. If you know you want users to be picking up objects in the scene and manipulating them, you can auto-enable the grabber; on another scene, if you know you want users to have drawing tools enabled, you can make the pencil the default tool. Users can of course change the tools themselves, but setting it in advance can reduce the friction for users who might not be used to VR or using VR-based user interfaces.

Viewing a well-crafted VR experience is captivating and memorable. Being able to view your learning content with your audience, or making it such that they can experience it with each other, is one of the great affordances of Vizible. People can view your published content from HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and desktop PC.

Last Words

Creating content for virtual reality will be a new endeavor for teachers, trainers, and students. Vizible is powerful in that it makes virtual reality creation accessible to those that are brand new to it and aren't programmers. Beyond being a content creation and delivery tool, it's also a synchronous learning environment. Students, trainees, or colleagues can explore your virtual reality experience alone, with each other, or with you as their guide.

We're incredibly excited about helping instructional designers create learning and training experiences with Vizible.

Want to get your hands on Vizible? Sign up here to try it for free.