703 Creating Presence in Virtual Reality

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Thursday, July 27


For virtual reality to achieve its goals, instructors need to create presence—the feeling of being in the virtual scene. Presence is what differentiates VR from video, and it’s what gives VR its unique power to affect learners. Virtual reality content doesn’t always do this well, leaving users less immersed than instructors intended, and creating weaker experiences and learning impact.

This session will outline both theory and application of presence, providing you with a clear checklist and understanding of what presence is, how to create it, and how to enhance it during learning sessions. You will review studies of presence and its impact, and discuss some of the areas still being worked out. The session will also touch on related concepts like narrative transportation and the role of content vs. instructions vs. tech in creating presence. Examples of low presence and high presence will be discussed.

In this session, you will learn:

  • What presence is
  • How presence is created
  • How presence is broken
  • How presence is enhanced
  • About the limits of presence in certain platforms
  • How presence correlates to impact

Novice designers, project managers, managers, and directors.

Technology discussed in this session:
Virtual reality, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard.

Hugh Seaton



Hugh Seaton is the CEO of Aquinas, which he founded in 2015 with the mission of creating the best personalized learning delivery software available. Virtual reality has been a passion of his for years, and he now runs two major VR meetups in NYC and is co-founder of the NYVRExpo held in the Jacob Javits center. Prior to Aquinas, Hugh ran training at Connecticut’s largest startup incubator while holding an adjunct professorship at Sacred Heart University. Hugh spent the first 18 years of his career in marketing and advertising, running data-driven campaigns in the US and China. Hugh holds an MBA from Columbia.

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