The Metaverse and Metaversities
The metaverse is still a new and confusing technology that will continue to develop. Colleges and universities have taken the first steps into a new world, especially after COVID-19, some classes have forced students and teachers to meet virtually, creating a less invigorating and non-interactive experience under the traditional Zoom and Google meets. This led many students dropping out and pursuing different paths due to the sudden change in environment. The metaverse has provided many of opportunities for universities to take advantage of virtual space.
By conducting classes in a virtual environment, universities can save costs on resources, while enhancing student engagement. University buildings are expensive to maintain with overall upkeep and staff wages for grounds management. Not to mention, some classes might be in an extreme environment and require costly teaching materials, such as lab equipment or medical related demonstrations. Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee decided to purchase virtual reality cadavers for their pre-med program to cut on cadaver costs and maintenance. Additionally, the virtual reality cadavers allowed students to engage with the learning material in a more equipped environment. Students could pull out the human heart, and expand their environment, understanding and coming to a correct diagnosis. Atlanta’s Morehouse College on the other hand, has started a metaversity involving various courses, like history and biology. The possibilities with virtual reality has allowed students to be immersed in an environment that is better equipped to keep students interested in course work, while being effective. Morehouse College’s World History class apparently had a 10% increase in students’ GPAs compared to zoom meetings for the whole year.
Students also benefit from a new and dynamic learning environment, through increased accessibility and a more extreme experimentation. Real-world learning environments aren’t always the safest option, but it can be much more accessible in the metaverse. Fisk University’s previously mentioned history course made use of the technology to virtually visit historically significant locations. Furthermore, remote learning will be a much more exciting experience for those who live in rural areas and are unable to attend a physical campus. South Dakota State University says that they expect their metaversity to reach the state’s more rural students. This will not only increase attendance and tuition rates for universities but give an opportunity for those who are too far to commute to campus. These metaversities will help students hone social and learning skills and do all the things you would normally do as if you were right there on the campus.
Metaversities are a brand-new topic that can further isolate students, but will also provide ample opportunities for students and universities on multiple levels. There are still many concerns about the metaverse and its relationship with universities, but only time will tell if it ends up taken too far.