Meta Launches Virtual Reality Courses to Select Universities

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Meta has partnered with software provider VictoryXR to create virtual campuses for various universities, such as the University of Maryland Global Campus, to host educational courses run in the metaverse. To access the metaverse campus, students can use a loaned headset and discuss the topic with a financial aid avatar. Students are currently able to take five courses in this manner with topics such as organic chemistry, English, history and biology.

“Universities are looking for better ways to deliver labs and learning for remote students. Beyond the capabilities of 2D screens, VR can help enhance the learning experience for students studying biology, chemistry, history, and other subjects by offering a more immersive learning environment,” said VictoryXR chief executive officer Steve Grubbs.

Advancements in virtual reality technology and the pandemic has transformed virtual reality teaching from a pipe dream into a real possibility. VictoryVX thinks that the current methods for online learning are insufficiently engaging and “non-interactive.” Therefore, VictoryVX has launched Metaversity as a solution.

One of the main benefits of online learning is the ability to interact with a larger variety of people without being restricted by geography. This particularly benefits the nursing course as students are able to interact with more than a mannequin and can talk to patients from different backgrounds.

Another benefit is that students are able to attend live classes and review the lessons once they are over. Any classes taught are saved in a content library for the students to browse in their own time.

Previously, VictoryXR worked with Morehouse College to improve remote learning for the pandemic in 2021. The digital campus allows students to attend classes, meet with other students at the student lounge and engage in leisurely activities such as chess in the Queen’s Garden.

“Our digital twin campus is integral in making the metaverse come to life for Morehouse. We are adding precious historical sites like King Chapel and the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center. This is a transformational experience for students, faculty, staff, and administration,” said Metaverse director of Morehouse College, Dr. Muhsinah Morris.

Past and present issues with virtual reality learning

One of the main concerns was its accessibility, as virtual reality headsets are often bulky and expensive. Meta is in a good position to tackle this issue as it accounts for over 90% of the market. The company will be providing universities with Quest 2 VR headsets for educational use. Universities will loan the headsets out to students for the year. The students will not have to pay extra to use the device or take part in the classes.

While loaning headsets solves the problems of accessibility, the main issue with virtual learning is the hardware. Reportedly, the headset can only be worn comfortably for around an hour, forcing classes to be short or have frequent breaks. The headset also has limited graphical rendering quality, limiting the amount of detail that can be put in some courses such as anatomy or biology. Finally, some users have experienced motion sickness while moving around in a virtual reality space, a common issue when introducing virtual reality to inexperienced users.