Metaverse Brings Two Regions in One Class at Once

Metaverse Brings Two Regions in One Class at Once

University students in Miami and India are holding lectures together, thanks to the metaverse, which allows them to make presentations in class using their avatars.

The students engage with each other from their respective countries in a course that is being taught in virtual reality, through a platform known as Engage VR.

This comes as metaverse technologies, like VR, AR have in the past few years gained popularity as learning institutions adopted the technology as a learning platform.

Architecture in the metaverse

An architecture student – Ellie Koeppen from the University of Miami takes her fellow classmates from Miami and those in India on a virtual tour of an interior of an apartment she designed. This, she does through her avatar, clad in red pair of shorts and white top.

This has become the norm for this class, that brings together students from two different continents in one class in a virtual world.

The course – Architecture in the Metaverse—Global Problems is offered through the School of Architecture hosted by RAD Lab and is being taught in partnership with Anant National University in Ahmedabad, India.

Course instructors include the dean of the school Rodolphe el-Khoury, and Indrit Alushani, a research associate.

“We are leveraging technology to collaborate globally,” said el-Khoury.

“It is working flawlessly, beyond my expectations. After five minutes in the virtual environment, you forget that you’re an avatar, and it feels like you are having conversations in the real world.”

According to the University of Miami, there are 21 students from Anant National University who are also on the course with professors Ashish Tiwari and Ujjwal Dawar co-teaching the university’s course.

Their first assignment is designing a visiting center for Zenciti, which is a “smart city” in Mexico’s Yucatan province which is pushing “the integration of technology into everyday life.”

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The virtual interactions

According to Alushani, learning through the metaverse has its own advantages. During presentations, the technology allows participants to move from Powerpoint to “a virtual walk-through in the designed space.”

Students usually showcase their work on white boards whereas the metaverse makes presentations “more dynamic and immersive.”

“Traditional renderings can tell a compelling story but there is a lot of wishful thinking in them,” said el-Khoury.

“Walking through the building (virtually) gives you a better sense of how it would look and feel.”

El-Khoury added that for the next iteration of the course, “we will explore tools for adjusting he design and for sampling different materials on the fly: ‘move this wall here, show me the floor with kind of tile,’ or ‘I want to change color here.’”

Institutions in countries like the US, Canada, and Japan have adopted virtual campuses, which has resulted in the coining of the term metaversity, allowing students to interact via virtual platforms.

Cross border collaborations

Apart from the ability to walk through spaces, students from both Miami and India have also warmed to the idea of collaborating with peers from across borders.

Koeppen, who is now a fourth-year student said working with students and tutors from another country was “amazing.”

“It is almost like you take what you have in your computer and then build it in real life. You can really tell if the design would be viable in real life,” she said.

Describing the experience of working with people from another country, she said: “Their teacher has given us feedback and it’s great to get feedback from someone so far away and in a completely different time zone.”

Fourth-year architecture student at Anant National University, Amrita Goyal thinks it is beneficial learning through the metaverse.

“It makes getting students from across the world together so much simpler, and we are learning the software but also discussing the importance of this metaverse in the architectural space,” she said adding there is potential in metaverse learning.

Her sentiments have been shared by many as metaverse campuses became the answer following the lockdowns experienced during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Facebook’s parent company Meta, also jumped at the opportunity, helping funding of 30 metaverse campuses built by VictoryXR.



Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.