Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear stories from faculty members at UNC and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on 97.9 The Hill WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Steven King is an associate professor of multimedia journalism and emerging technologies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill holding a joint appointment with the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and Kenan-Flagler Business School. In this special edition of Focus Carolina, he discusses how COVID-19 is accelerating the future of remote work.

“I think that COVID-19 has really been a steroid shot to the change of remote work,” said King. “The idea of virtual spaces and virtual reality as a place for gathering and collaboration has become a necessary tool that we need to get work done. The current situation has really thrown us into that faster than I would have expected.”

According to King, one of the keys to being successful in this environment is good communication with the team working remotely and also bringing a bit of fun into the work. He predicts that when the crisis subsides new jobs will be created that will enable work to be done remotely. Organizations will be better equipped to allow for more remote work and will feel more comfortable with it.

In his work, King combines computer science concepts, human-centered design and storytelling to create new ways to present information through emerging technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and other interactive media forms.

“As a professor, I was trying to figure out what is going to be the best way for me to teach my classes online as well as help other professors in that same situation,” said King. “I have some experience teaching online. I’ve taught in our online master’s program before, and so I felt very comfortable moving into that position, but I wanted to make sure that we were doing it and the best way possible.”

When Carolina switched to remote learning after spring break, King made his virtual reality class a fully virtual class. He created a fully furnished virtual classroom and his students created personalized avatars. Using a VR headset, the 28 students gathered in the 3D space to learn, first together as one group and then in smaller breakout groups.

Featured image via UNC-Chapel Hill

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