Grad student presents complex blockchain concepts using virtual reality tools


Wichita State University has stopped all in-person courses to limit the spread of COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped the Master of Innovation Design graduate program.

Leading up to the university shut down, Wichita State instructor and innovation design alum, Max Hinman and current innovation design student, Jared Goering worked together to design a virtual reality presentation that can be joined from any VR headset or computer.

Together, Max and Jared have launched a startup on this concept called nwire that would push VR teaching to others. nwire is one of the recipients of the John A. See Innovation Award.

The Introduction to Blockchain course is typically an in-person class due to the complex nature of blockchain concepts.

Blockchain is a technology that underpins digital currency such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Each individual piece of data has one owner and allows for digital information to be distributed but not copied. Blockchain technology was invented in 2008 but came to light when Bitcoin launched.

“Using virtual reality takes this content beyond online classes or remote courses taken through Zoom,” Max said. “We are getting as close to in-person classes as possible in the current situation we are all in.”

The assignment was to give an overview and explain what blockchain is to the attendees of the virtual classroom. Darius McDowel, a graduate student in innovation design, presented to a group of 12 attendees. Among the class was a middle school student who tuned in with his parent, a handful of WSU students, other WSU faculty members, and the dean of the Institute of Innovation at Wichita State University, Dr. Jeremy Patterson. Attendees were able to join the room from their homes using their own VR goggles or through a web link. Student and nwire founder Jared connected in from Montana.

This group has developed and tested a virtual reality collaborative platform for teaching and has converted existing lectures so they can be accessed and taught in a virtual classroom.

“It was really cool to be able to see everyone in the room as a different character while I was standing in my living room,” Darius said.

Students and instructors were provided Oculus VR headsets in preparation for the shift to online classes. During the switch from in-person classes to remote learning, students have been positive, supportive and aware that this is a unique learning experience. The innovation design students have been resilient and adaptable and understand this situation is refining skillsets that benefit them as society redefines the expectations of going to work.

To learn more about the Masters of Innovation Design program, visit

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