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NCCU x MSU: Historic First-Ever VR Academic Agreement Signing Ceremony Crosses Borders

National Chengchi University (NCCU) and Michigan State University (MSU) marked a significant milestone on March 15 by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Among the distinguished delegates from NCCU were President Tsai-yen Li; Dr. Yi-Ning Chen, Dean of the College of Communication; Dr Jih-Hsuan Lin, Director of the International Master's Program in International Communication Studies; and Dr. Tsung-Jen Shih, Director of the Media Research and Development Center. Representing MSU were Dr. Michael Stern, Chair of the Department of Media & Information; Dr. Rabinadra Ratan, the Director of the Social and Psychological Approaches to Research on Technology-Interaction Effects Lab; and Dr Ruth Shillair, the Director of the Master’s Program for Media & Information.


In a departure from tradition, the signing ceremony occurred in virtual reality (VR), allowing all participants to interact as if they were in the same physical space. Through specialized headsets and handheld devices, attendees could shake hands, clap, fist bump, and convey facial expressions, enhancing the sense of presence despite the distance. Dr Tsai-yen Li expressed during the opening speech, “This event is a really fun experience for me, as such technology allows me to gather with people from across the globe without having to fly,” remarking on the novelty and convenience of VR, which facilitated global gatherings without the need for travel.

Fig 1. A group photo of all the delegates in the form of cute avatars.

 

The focus of future collaborations between NCCU and MSU will primarily revolve around academic and faculty exchanges within the realm of extended reality (XR). The decision to sign the MOU via the VR platform added a symbolic layer to the collaboration, serving as a showcase for the capabilities of both institutions in terms of equipment, laboratories, faculties, and students. Noteworthy contributions came from graduate students in Dr. Jih-Hsuan Lin’s Media Psychology Lab, who played critical roles in organizing the event, and from the XR lab overseen by Dr. Tsung-Jen Shih, both currently supported by Meta. Last but not least, Dr. Yi-Ning Chen presently serves as the oversight board member for Meta.


Fig 2. Graduate students from Dr. Jih-Hsuan Lin’s Media Psychology Lab were in charge of organizing this event.


Dr. Rabinadra Ratan, who offers all his courses entirely through VR, emphasized the vast potential of this technology, stating, “WE are here in virtual reality,” to underscore not only the participants in the MOU signing but also the limitless possibilities inherent in VR and augmented reality (AR).

Fig 3 & 4. (Figure 3) Delegates from NCCU explored different functions within the virtual reality setting in a physical space. (Figure 4) A picture of how the avatars appear in virtual reality. From left to right, the figures represent Dr Tsung-Jen Shih, Dr Jih-Hsuan Lin, Dr Yi-Ning Chen, and Dr Tsai-yen Li, respectively.


In the concluding remarks, Dr. Jih-Hsuan Lin announced plans for both universities to exchange two students per semester starting in the fall of 2025. Grateful for her own ties to MSU as an alumna, she expressed optimism for future collaborations. Students from NCCU can expect to take nine credits (about 3 courses) in MSU as it provides one of the state-of-the-art programs regarding XR. Additionally, she suggested that MSU students visiting NCCU can look forward to immersive experiences at companies like HTC in Taipei, Taiwan, further enriching their understanding of the XR field.

Fig 5. Delegates were exchanging ideas in the virtual room.


For more details about the College of Communication, NCCU, please visit https://comm.nccu.edu.tw/eng/PageFront?fid=11104.

For more details about the International Master's Program in International Communication Studies (IMICS), NCCU, please visit https://www.imics.nccu.edu.tw/

For more details about the Department of Media & Information, MSU, please visit https://comartsci.msu.edu/departments/media-and-information


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