Thursday 5 August 2021

Spotlight on Mindscape Commons, Coherent Digital

 – Shortlisted for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021

This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of six for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. Each finalist will be invited to showcase their innovation to industry peers at the ALPSP Awards session on Wednesday 15 September at the opening of the ALPSP Virtual Conference & Awards 2021. The winners will be announced on the final day of the Conference on Friday 17 September

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists.

Tell us about your organization

Coherent Digital was founded in 2019 by industry veterans Stephen Rhind-Tutt, Eileen Lawrence, and Toby Green. Our mission is to tame wild content. What does that mean? We create databases of critical research and learning materials composed of content that’s otherwise undiscovered, undigitized, uncatalogued, uncited, orphaned, or likely to disappear. We stabilize this content and preserve it in a permanent home. Most importantly, we make it available to our community of researchers and scholars around the globe.

What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards? 

We’re honored that one of our flagship products, Mindscape Commons, was shortlisted by the ALPSP Awards Committee.

Mindscape Commons is the world’s first and largest collection of immersive, interactive, and virtual reality video content for teaching, training and learning in mental health.  

A growing body of research confirms that immersive content builds empathy, brings better clinical outcomes, and trains students to handle complex and high-risk situations in a safe and repeatable way. But historically, many of these VR experiences and videos were “wild”—scattered across the internet, not stable or citable, in danger of disappearing. For the first time ever, Mindscape Commons brings open-access, research, commercial, and originally produced VR content together on a single site.
This is a community project. Our “freemium” model enables registered users to access open-sourced 360° videos and upload their own content for publication.

As part of our paid institutional membership, Mindscape offers hundreds of interactive, short-form, VR and 2D videos developed in partnership with faculty and students. For example, we collaborated with Mercer University in Atlanta to develop a series of 360° Virtual Microcases. Each three-to four-minute case features a client with anger, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, trauma, or another presenting issue, making learners more prepared going into field experience and practicum. Virtual Microcases are substantially more effective than written case studies in textbooks because they’re authentic, immersive, and experiential. Content is further enhanced with interactive quizzes, book chapters, discussion questions, and other tools to facilitate teaching and improve learning outcomes. 

Our content is developed to represent a diverse community, featuring topics and themes such as multicultural dynamics, LGBTQ+, international voices, first generation stories, immigrant experiences, and religion and spirituality. 

No VR equipment is needed; content can be accessed on a laptop or mobile phone. If a user wishes to watch immersively, the person can opt for simple and affordable “cardboard” device to use with a mobile phone or, for a more immersive experience, a head-mounted device (HMD), such as an Oculus.  

We believe that 21st-century learners (sometimes referred to as “digital natives”) are ready to embrace new technologies for better learning—and we’re proud to meet this need for faculty and students in mental health and related fields. 

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

Research and development began in 2019, and Mindscape launched in October 2020. For our original video content, we filmed in 4K VR stereo and then rendered it to be compatible with a wide array of devices and network connectivity, including laptop, mobile phone, mobile phone with “cardboard” device, as well as an HMD such as an Oculus.  Additional features in Mindscape include interactive elements to 360° video content, searchable and downloadable transcripts, and advanced search capabilities. Titles can be embedded into learning management systems. Content was independently tested for conformance with WCAG accessibility standards.

Mindscape is a collaborative effort among Coherent Digital team members Stephen Rhind-Tutt, Elizabeth Robey, Pete Ciuffetti, and Carolina Tobon. We collaborated with faculty and graduate students from a number of universities to create original 360° video content and teaching guides and for beta testing.  These partnerships were critical to Mindscape’s creation and success. 

What are your plans for the future?

Mindscape Commons will grow in both proprietary and open materials.  We will continue to develop immersive and interactive video content that is responsive to emerging research and social and cultural changes in the mental health field, and we will work with select partners to license more quality experiences. We will continue to create curriculum support materials for improved teaching and learning outcomes. We will also grow the open-source content through community engagement and member uploads. 

For further information, please visit: 

Visit the ALPSP Annual Conference 2021 website for more details and to book your place. 

The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021 are sponsored by HighWire

About the authors

Elizabeth Robey, Publisher of Mindscape Commons  
Elizabeth has worked in academic publishing since 2000 with a focus in the fields of counseling and social work where she has spent the last 20 years building relationships with faculty and organizations, translating their expertise into hands-on training materials.

Peter Ciuffetti, Chief Technology Officer, Coherent Digital 
Pete has held senior technical positions at seven different information providers over a 35+ year career, most of them startups or early stage. He speaks at industry events on the use of machine learning in electronic publishing.

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