Maha Leah Thacher

Video – Virtual Reality in the Arabic Classroom at Duke

Highlights from a panel’s conversation as part of the John Hope Franklin Center’s weekly Wednesdays at the Center series.


Panelists: Elizabeth Evans, Chip Bobbert, Leah Rothfeld, Thatcher Owen, and Maha Houssami

This panel will describe what 360 video is and how it’s recorded, including some of the cameras you can use to capture an immersive experience to share a vacation memory or a family event. You will also learn about a project funded by the Duke Digital Initiative (DDI) and executed with the support of AMES, CIT and OIT and Duke Engage in Lebanon and Jordan exploring the use of 360 video in teaching and learning Arabic at Duke. 360 video captures scenery and action from all sides and, in some cases, from above and below, too!

Elizabeth A. (Libby) Evans manages the Duke Digital Initiative (DDI) at Duke University. The DDI is a collaboration between the central IT group and Duke’s Learning Innovation. DDI is charged with exploring new and emerging technologies as they might be used in teaching and learning including drones, motion tracking,virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D video, 360 degree video, lightboards, and more.

Chip Bobbert, Digital Media & Emerging Technologies Engineer, manages Duke’s two specialty labs—the Multimedia Project Studio and Innovation Studio—within the university’s Software and Lab Services group.

Leah Rothfeld is a senior from Florida majoring in International Comparatives Studies, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies on the Arabic language track and minoring in Economics.

Thatcher Owen is a senior Mechanical Engineering and Arabic double major from Yorktown, Virginia. He studied ten semesters of Arabic at Duke University and with Boston University abroad in Rabat, Morocco.

Maha Houssami is an Arabic language lecturer at the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department since October 2011. Maha is also the Faculty Fellow for Duke Engage in Jordan and the faculty advisor of INJAZ, a student-run volunteer organization in which students meet weekly with local refugees from Arabic speaking countries for language and cultural exchange.