As the metaverse trend spreads online, universities are riding the wave to create “metaversities.” Several U.S. colleges plan to open virtual reality (VR) replications of themselves in fall 2022.
Metaverse Cam explained that each participating school will digitally re-create its campus, including its buildings, statues and walkways. Students who opt into the metaversity learning experience will receive VR headsets that they’ll use to attend online lectures. It’s unclear whether the VR tuition cost differs from each college’s in-person tuition.
“The idea is to make remote learning feel more personal with the VR campus interaction and to utilize the ability virtual reality gives us to present things in ways that are not possible in the physical world,” Metaverse Cam explained.
How did metaversities come to exist, and which schools are participating?
The metaversity concept is a joint project between VR company Engage XR and VictoryXR, a team of VR education specialists. VictoryXR’s website states that its VR college courses will have synchronous and asynchronous options. Each online class will be “geographically agnostic,” allowing students and educators to work together no matter how far apart they are in the world.
“We want to create an ecosystem for learning in the metaverse,” Monica Arés, Meta’s head of Immersive Learning, told EdSurge. “We want to make sure that not only are we preparing the future workforce to interact with these technologies, but also to build them.”
The universities confirmed by VictoryXR as participants for the metaversity project include:
University of Maryland Global Campus
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Alabama A&M University
West Virginia University
University of Kansas
Morehouse College (Atlanta)
Fisk University (Nashville)
St. Ambrose University
Southwestern Oregon Community College
New Mexico State University
South Dakota State University
Northern Illinois University
How is Gen Z reacting to the concept of metaversities?
Metaverse Cam closed his TikTok by asking viewers whether or not they believe metaversities could replace regular universities in the future; most commenters had adverse reactions to the concept of VR school, still not understanding the metaverse concept.
“Oh, so college is getting even more devalued,” a TikToker joked.
“Watch them upcharge for ‘tech fees’ and make it more expensive than actually going,” another noted.
“They’re forcing this junk so hard, does anyone even use the metaverse?” someone wrote.
Other TikTokers saw the potential of metaversities, intrigued by the possibilities they hold for the higher education system.
“No doubt it will be a huge part of education in the near future, but the tech is still pretty early, give it 5 years,” a TikToker commented.
“As long as it’s cheaper, then yea bring it on, it will give soo many more people the chance they didn’t have before,” another said.
Despite the potential benefit of metaversities, many commenters were still concerned about the logistics behind the concept. TikTokers argued that certain aspects of the college experience would not make sense when transferred to a VR setting and vice versa.
“I’m not so sure about this one … will you have to virtually walk across the entire campus to get to your online class? If so, I’m out, lmao,” a TikTok user said.
“Didn’t we see how completely virtual college absolutely ruins the experience? Except for convenience like travel time (which this includes so??),” another user questioned.
“College is more important for the social opportunities available. Friends helped me land jobs after graduation,” someone commented.
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