Oral Roberts University officials cut the ribbon Wednesday to open the new Global Learning Center, a high-tech facility designed to connect ORU to students around the world. The $8 million, 54,000-square-foot facility is in what is called the “Baby Mabee,” the building attached to Mabee Center at 81st Street and Lewis Avenue that once housed the Oral Roberts television studio. ORU President William Wilson told people crowded into the lobby that the Global Learning Center is one of the visible realities of ORU’s pursuit over the last several years to become a global institution. He said the center allows ORU to connect with students globally in real time.
“This facility has been built not only for students here in Tulsa, but for students around the world,” Wilson said.
The center’s virtual and augmented reality room allows students to experience what they are learning, he said.
That room was dedicated Wednesday to longtime ORU professor George Gillen, who recently retired.
Virtual reality puts the participant in a digitally created environment. Augmented reality augments existing reality with digital overlays.
“This is cutting edge for education today,” Wilson said.
Students can learn new material more than 300 percent faster in a virtual or augmented reality environment, he said.
Wilson said the center was paid for with gifts, without any borrowing.
“We want to connect Tulsa with the world through this facility, and help more people around the world experience Tulsa,” he said.
Mike Neal, president of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, called the facility a “game changer,” noting that Tulsa businesses are competing with others across globe.
“This is going to prepare young people for the jobs of tomorrow,” Neal said.
Mike Mathews, associate vice president of technology and innovation at ORU, said before the ceremony that his team has been working on the design of the center for 18 months. The center will connect ORU to students around the world through the latest in technology, he said.
“I’m so excited because for the first time we have a building that manifests that capability,” Mathews said. “We had CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) here this morning, and they were blown away,” he said.
“They’ve really done a terrific job here,” said Mats Johansson, CEO of Eon Reality, the California company that worked with ORU on the virtual reality components of the center. “I was really impressed with the way the site can connect with students from around the world,” he said.
Johansson said his company will work with ORU to start a school for virtual reality and augmented reality developers at the center.Robert Cipriano, with the Tulsa-based Allhumanity Group, said he came to the grand opening because the center’s technology will help connect him with his members around the world. Allhumanity is a network of humanitarian organizations.
“My mind explodes at the possibilities,” he said. “We need to (communicate knowledge and wisdom) to the entire world. And this is the way to do it.”
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