Students in Europe and around the wider world are already expanding their horizons with lectures in the metaverse using so called digital twins, and are now unlocking previously impossible educational experiences.
Business schools in France, the UK, Austria, and Italy are among those already experimenting with virtual reality, and the educational opportunities of the metaverse.
Now virtual travel experiences appear set to join the curriculum, allowing students to attend virtual twin locations around the globe.
The VR campus is just the beginning
Neoma Business School in France is among the European businesses offering lectures in the metaverse. The school has a persistent virtual campus of 10,000 square meters that includes common areas, classrooms, amphitheaters, meeting rooms, and offices.
Professor Alain Goudey, a professor of marketing and associate dean for digital at Neoma, believes that education on and in the metaverse is swiftly becoming essential for modern students.
“It’s very important for business schools to be at the forefront of educating future managers about the metaverse,” Goudey told the FT on Tuesday. “It is going to shape the world of tomorrow.”
The Essca School of Management in France is also working in the metaverse. These French schools are joined by WU Executive Academy in Vienna and London’s Imperial College Business School.
The Polimi Graduate School of Management in Milan believes that the metaverse will take students further than ever before.
Polimi has named their VR edtech start-up Fadpro which the school will offer courses that include virtual trips to companies. These “digital twin” business locations will allow students to receive first-hand experience with workplaces and factories from around the world.
In theory, the technology should allow students in Europe to visit Toyota headquarters in the morning and Tesla in the afternoon, with virtual on-campus lectures between the two.
Dartmouth students visits digital twins in India, virtually
In the US educational institutions have been slower to adopt metaverse technology, but the sector is now taking off. Earlier this year Wharton became the first Ivy-League business school to enter the metaverse, launching its course Business in the Metaverse Economy.
The school is not completely on its own. The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College recently ran a pilot course allowing its students to visit southwest India and to “assess consumer needs in the healthcare and wellness sector.”
The healthcare students watched several films that followed a fisherman, a construction worker, a farmer, and a social worker. Students were then able to visit and explore locations from the films in full immersive 3D.
VR allowed the students to gain a deeper understanding
Vijay Govindarajan, who ran the course, delivered his findings from the pilot earlier this month and the results were overwhelmingly positive: “The students felt that VR allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of India’s cultural and social context, empathize with the families they interviewed, and better understand daily life in Tamil Nandu.”
There were also some caveats as “some students compared the VR experience unfavorably to being present on the ground.”
In the absence of such real-life globe-trotting opportunities, VR travel may be the next best thing.
Sadly, metaverse travel may not be good news for everyone. Those who are prone to becoming travel sick may find little respite in metaverse travel, as some studies show that VR usage can also lead to nausea and sickness for some.
As the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said in 1849, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”