How Universities Are Adapting to Virtual Reality

William Bremer
June 25, 2024
5 min read
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How Universities Are Adapting to Virtual Reality

Numerous universities have begun taking advantage of VR in higher education by luring students to apply to their college, which automatically gives them a boost in comparison to universities that are yet to release virtual tours. Integrating virtual reality experiences into higher education not only enhances the recruitment process but also provides prospective students with immersive glimpses into campus life and academic facilities, creating a more engaging and realistic preview of their potential educational journey. Several institutions are already embracing these transformative tools. Here are four ways colleges can benefit from utilizing virtual reality.

Key Takeaways

  • Universities are using VR to enhance recruitment through virtual campus tours, providing immersive previews of campus life.
  • VR is being integrated into learning experiences to simulate real-world scenarios and develop soft skills.
  • Virtual reality is aiding in job interview preparation by simulating interview environments and offering performance assessments.
  • The concept of 'metaversities' is emerging, with digital twin campuses and partnerships with tech companies.
  • Challenges in VR adoption include cost, accessibility, and the need for technological advancements, but the future prospects remain promising.

Enhancing Recruitment Through Virtual Campus Tours

Virtual tours allow students to explore campus from the comfort of their own home, thus reducing the number of universities they need to visit in real life. Some may even find a virtual tour sufficient to make their decision. Integrating virtual reality experiences into higher education not only enhances the recruitment process but also provides prospective students with immersive glimpses into campus life and academic facilities. This creates a more engaging and realistic preview of their potential educational journey.

Immersive Learning Experiences

Virtual Reality (VR) is revolutionizing the way students learn by providing immersive learning experiences that were previously unimaginable. Immersive learning is just one application in a robust industry, offering students the opportunity to engage deeply with the material.

Simulating Real-World Scenarios

VR allows students to simulate real-world scenarios, providing a safe environment to practice and learn. For example, medical students can perform virtual surgeries, and engineering students can build and test structures without any real-world consequences. This type of immersive learning experience drives student engagement by simulating superimposed, artificial objects in real-world environments.

Developing Soft Skills Through VR

Interactive historical reenactment and role play in VR can help students develop essential soft skills such as empathy, communication, and teamwork. These early educational products offer engaging virtual experiences of places that never existed or events that no longer exist, providing a unique perspective-taking and empathy experience.

Gamification in Education

Gamification in VR transforms traditional learning into an engaging and interactive experience. By incorporating game elements, students are more motivated to participate and learn. Applications and virtual worlds, whether custom-made or through off-the-shelf platforms like AltSpace and VR Chat, provide virtual online chat spaces where students with a VR headset can project themselves and interact with lecturers and other students.

The Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN) created an entire Virtual Campus, open all year round for continued use in lectures, events, networking, and their annual conference.

Virtual Reality in Job Interview Preparation

Simulating Interview Environments

Universities using VR can help students get over some of their fears and simultaneously gain soft skills. Such applications can also help college students prepare for job interviews. The application creates a simulation close enough to what a real interview would be like and even goes as far as to assess your performance.

Performance Assessment and Feedback

The scoring method resembles a form of gamification that subtly motivates students to keep practicing! Integrating virtual reality experiences into higher education not only enhances the recruitment process but also provides prospective students with immersive glimpses into campus life and academic facilities, creating a more engaging and realistic preview of their potential educational journey.

Building Confidence with VR

Roleplay with AI training in VR with the VirtualSpeech app. VR experiences are also helping the large percentage of people with speech anxiety to build their confidence – practicing in VR provides a safe environment that allows you to desensitize from a real-life audience.

Lecturers in Europe, North America, and Australia are using VirtualSpeech to enhance their students’ skill set. VirtualSpeech offers two courses that are particularly relevant in this space; the public speaking and job interview courses.

The Rise of Metaversities

In addition to the growing number of VR labs and courses, another emerging trend in higher education is the concept of metaversities. These are virtual campuses created within the metaverse, offering a new level of immersive learning opportunities for students. Metaversities represent the next evolution beyond traditional VR experiences, providing a fully virtual environment where students can engage in collaborative learning, attend lectures, participate in virtual labs, and interact with professors.

Digital Twin Campuses

In the past year, several U.S. universities worked to establish their own metaversities, or digital twin” campuses where students can participate in VR courses using tools such as Meta Quest 2 headsets, as part of a partnership announced last summer with VictoryXR and Meta. These universities initially included Morehouse College in Georgia, which was among the first institutions to experiment with VR tools at scale, as well as the University of Kansas School of Nursing, New Mexico State University, and South Dakota State University.

Partnerships with Tech Companies

According to VictoryXR CEO Steve Grubbs, momentum for the metaversity initiative has continued to build since the spring, with the addition of schools such as the University of California, Irvine, which launched its metaversity program this week. He said the costs for adopting VR in higher education varies between academic programs and schools, but VR applications in general have become less expensive in the past few years.

Case Studies of Early Adopters

VictoryXR also announced metaversity partnerships in March with Loyola Marymount University in California, Cal State Northridge in California, Indiana Wesleyan University in Indiana, Metropolitan State University of Denver in Colorado, Florida A&M University in Florida, Lorain County Community College in Ohio, Jackson State University in Mississippi, North Carolina A&T State University in North Carolina, and Northern Virginia Community College.

As AR/VR technologies continue to improve for education applications, some higher ed leaders are increasingly confident in their efforts to create digital “metaversities,” an idea popularized last year to use VR to build online virtual campuses and immersive classes. But adoption costs in many cases remain prohibitive, varying widely based on the particulars of the project as well as the cost of hardware, shipping and professional development.

Challenges and Opportunities in VR Adoption

Cost and Accessibility Issues

Adopting VR in educational settings raises significant accessibility issues. The cost of VR headsets and the necessary technological infrastructure can be prohibitive for many institutions. Additionally, there are concerns about ensuring that VR experiences are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. The new medium presents both enormous challenges but also some potential benefits for users with certain disabilities.

Technological Advancements

While VR technology has advanced rapidly, there are still stabilities in our context that will temper adoption. Traditional preferences for face-to-face interactions and an attachment to print and graphic formats can slow down the integration of VR in educational settings. However, the increased social uptake of AR and VR in the general consumer market has driven cumulative adoption on campus.

Future Prospects for VR in Education

The future of VR in education looks promising, with potential improvements in visualization for display and exploration. The demand on the instructional side now requires not just a refresh of policy but also the addition of new resources and training for educators. As VR activities continue to increase across research and instructional settings, universities must adapt to these changes to stay relevant.

The adoption of VR in education presents both challenges and opportunities, requiring a balance between technological advancements and accessibility considerations.

The Role of VR in Remote Learning

Supplementing Zoom with VR

Virtual solutions have also been developed that allow students to forgo expensive travel by practicing their language skills in VR scenarios with AI-powered animated characters. Students can feel less inhibited than in real-life interactions to improve their language skills and receive real-time feedback. Distance learning tools can put educators and students together in the same room with digital representations of themselves—teachers can teleport into the VR world and guide students through their experiences.

Distributing VR Headsets

“As instructors are interested in utilizing VR in their classrooms, what we do is we send out these headsets to these remote students. From there, we set up their headset remotely and work with them on that, and then we work with instructors on how to integrate it into their virtual classroom,” he said. “I look at their courses, and then we work together to create actual activities using VR. It’s kind of a learning process of just getting them comfortable with using it. ... But since we work with

Creating Engaging Remote Classes

Books will always be an integral part of university learning. But as the academic world raced to adapt to remote learning in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, and with options growing to study around the world in geographically different locations, the benefits of VR and the social connection it creates are huge.

One of the most obvious benefits of VR is transforming lectures into immersive learning experiences, enabling lecturers to truly bring their subject to life.

Virtual Reality (VR) is revolutionizing remote learning by providing immersive and interactive experiences that traditional methods can't match. To explore how VR can transform your educational approach, visit our website at www.cloudpano.com today!

Conclusion

As universities continue to embrace virtual reality, the landscape of higher education is undergoing a significant transformation. By integrating VR into various aspects of the academic experience, institutions are not only enhancing their recruitment processes but also providing students with immersive and engaging learning opportunities. From virtual tours that offer realistic previews of campus life to VR simulations that help students develop soft skills and prepare for job interviews, the benefits are manifold. The creation of 'metaversities' and digital twin campuses further exemplifies the innovative strides being made. While challenges such as adoption costs and technological barriers remain, the potential for VR to revolutionize education is undeniable. As the technology advances and becomes more accessible, it is up to higher education leaders to adapt and harness its full potential, ensuring that students are well-prepared for the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are universities using VR to enhance recruitment?

Numerous universities have begun taking advantage of VR in higher education by offering virtual campus tours, which attract students and give them a competitive edge over institutions that have yet to implement such technologies.

What benefits do virtual campus tours offer to prospective students?

Virtual campus tours provide immersive glimpses into campus life and academic facilities, creating a more engaging and realistic preview of their potential educational journey.

How does VR help students prepare for job interviews?

VR applications simulate real interview environments, helping students overcome their fears, develop soft skills, and receive performance assessments that motivate them to keep practicing.

What are metaversities?

Metaversities are digital twin campuses where students can participate in VR courses. These are part of partnerships with tech companies like Meta and VictoryXR, allowing institutions to offer immersive VR learning experiences.

What challenges do universities face in adopting VR?

Challenges include cost and accessibility issues, the need for technological advancements, and the necessity for leadership to adapt and adopt VR technology to make the transition possible.

How is VR being integrated into remote learning?

VR is supplementing traditional remote learning tools like Zoom by creating more engaging and immersive remote classes. Universities are also distributing VR headsets to students and instructors to facilitate this transition.

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William Bremer

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