The Metaverse: Higher Education Moving to a Tribrid Model

Higher education is moving forward to a tribrid model which flows between in-person, online, and simulated teaching environments.  

The ‘Metaverse’ is a term that was coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. In Stephenson’s fictional world, humans interact with each other in their avatar form within a three-dimensional virtual world. In the novel, users get great freedom when it comes to real-time interaction and they can also build any virtual environment they can possibly imagine. 

Thirty years later, the Metaverse is part of today’s reality. The Metaverse is a virtual 3D extension of the Internet as we know it. When we immerse ourselves in the Metaverse we can pretty much do the same Stephenson’s characters can do in their fictional virtual world. 

Digital Transformation is developing rapidly within some institutions. Most faculty members now recognize the benefits that technological advances have brought into the ways online education is delivered. As online learning rises in popularity and acceptance, educators and institutions are on a quest to make eLearning more interactive and engaging.

Metaverse: The Future of EdTech 

For those institutions adopting the Metaverse creating their own campus in the Metaversity, the Metaverse will have a huge impact on their eLearning programs. By giving the virtual learning environment (VLE) a more life-like feel bringing online learning environments to life, the Metaverse makes learning itself more engaging and experiential. 

The Metaverse removed physical barriers by ensuring that all students —even those in the least accessible parts of the world— may access quality higher education becoming a part of university innovation and immersive campus life.

Institutions are quickly learning that they need to conceive a better long-term solution to Zoom classes. The Metaverse could do that for them while providing an imaginative and immersive alternative. A study from PwC found that classes in the Metaverse are four times faster to train than in-person classes, 275 percent more confident to apply skills learned after training, 3.75 times more emotionally connected to content than classroom learners, and four times more focused than their e-Learning peers.

Metaverse: Benefits offered to colleges 

Some may think the Metaverse is not here yet. However, a good number of higher education institutions are already navigating the Metaverse waters, testing the early stages of the technology. For instance, education technology company VictoryXR, a provider of Augmented and Virtual Reality content for educational institutions and Engage VR, an Irish company that produces Virtual Reality experiences, have collaborated with 10 U.S. participating colleges ahead of the institutions launching their Metaversities, a project supported by Meta, the company that owns Facebook.  

In 2021, Morehouse College created a digital campus, or Digital Twin, as a solution for remote learning that is a superior experience than Zoom.


According to recent research by Dr. Nir Kshetri, Professor of Management at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro, where he examined the Metaverse and how it affects organizations and societies, there are six visible benefits that the Metaverse offers to colleges:

The Metaverse makes educational resources affordable

  • Enhances student performance
  • Makes virtual interactions more like real ones
  • Enables experimentation with hard-to-create phenomena
  • Increases accessibility for remote students 
  • Attracts a young demographic

In the long run, old ways of doing things in education are going to stop working simply because they belong to the past. To join the workforce, graduates must be trained and experienced in the same emerging technologies their future employers are incorporating in their businesses. Even if some colleges are not yet ready to embrace the Metaverse, a more immersive approach to learning and teaching including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (XR) needs to be the goal going forward. 

Since a high proportion of younger generations, such as Gen Z, grew up with Virtual Reality technologies, they show a high level of interest and involvement in the Metaverse. Universities adapting and adopting the Metaverse will remain relevant in the digital age, attracting and increasing enrollment.