Metaverse: The University Becomes the Metaversity

The higher education Metaverse is about creating immersive learning experiences. Soon, students will be attending the Metaversity. 

Immersive virtual platforms have been around for two decades. Some perhaps remember Second Life, an online multimedia platform that allowed people to create an avatar for themselves and live a virtual life in a virtual world. Back in 2003 when Second Life was launched, this was a novel idea and as such, a few universities experimented creating a few virtual classes and avatars. However, the technology required was not there yet.  

A combination of resistance to such an idea by the majority and, perhaps the most important reason, network technology challenges put the virtual worlds in stand-by. Up to now. 

Almost 20 years later, the Metaverse can be defined as a network of 3D-virtual worlds focused on social connection. Facebook (rebranded as Meta), Microsoft, and others define the Metaverse and what it means today as the virtual world that will usher in the next phase of the Internet, or Web 3.0. In order to achieve this, the Metaverse requires a powerful, fast network. And here is where 5G becomes relevant for higher ed institutions.

Powerful 5G network technology with its low-latency, and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) will play a paramount role in the efficiency of the Metaverse experience. A Metaverse campus can support digital learning, expanding academic and training opportunities by enabling immersive Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) learning experiences, giving life to the Metaversity. 

The Metaversity is a university immersive environment which combines VR and AR technologies, a Digital Twin of a physical campus, and where students and faculty can interact with each other via their Digital Twin, a digital representation of themselves. The Metaversity-vision will enable universities to scale and teach billions globally, offering all the regular benefits but at a fraction of the price.

Metaverse for business education and inter-disciplinary collaboration 

According to business school deans, from the technologies that make up the Metaverse, Virtual Reality is the technology that is most promising to be integrated in graduate management education. 

A shift in education brings a greater emphasis on inter-disciplinarity. The insights of fields such as the humanities, the natural sciences, engineering, design, and political science among others may find in the Metaverse an easy playground where students can immerse themselves and interact in different fields. 

There is also an opportunity to redefine internationalization. Virtual worlds have no geographical boundaries. The Metaverse opens new possibilities for the future of colleges and universities, including collaborative work not only for students and academics from different universities but also from different countries. International guest speakers can easily join a virtual multi-location program in the Metaversity, delivering conference talks and lectures as a virtual avatar or a digital twin. This can also reduce the carbon footprint of institutions and engage in a form of training that may be supported by today’s students, the next generation of sustainable leaders.

In the future, more than ever, there will be a high demand for transformational leaders. It is in today’s higher education institutions’ hands to prepare such leaders using the latest education technology, and that means to embrace new technologies such as the Metaverse and to move the physical campus to the Metaversity. 

Join Fierce Education’s “Higher Education: Technology Profiles in Success – Spring” virtual event which will take place on April 28, 2022 to learn what to expect in the blended learning environment today and how to prepare for the college and university of the future.