Step-dancing in the metaverse might be a thing after Morehouse College takes its curriculum into the digital world.
In an ambitious step into enrolling students in its classroom, the Atlanta HBCU is the first institution to offer virtual reality programs, according to WSB-TV.
The metaverse is basically a virtual world or environment where people can do everything from “living” to shopping to conducting business. The term is a combination of the words “meta,” meaning beyond, and “universe.”
For Morehouse College, the introduction of the metaverse and being the first accredited college to do so is about using technical advancements to teach students.
It also does not hurt that by being an earlier adopter of the metaverse, the HBCU positions students in a space that is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030.
By 2040, 54 percent of technology experts believe the metaverse will be commonplace in the daily lives of half a billion people, according to Pew Research Center.
With the metaverse, Morehouse students can take online classes with a headset and engage as if they were taking courses in person. Users of the metaverse classroom will have an unlimited experience thanks to the technology, said some of the college representatives.
A prime example is using the headset to simulate a slave ship voyage in the metaverse.
“The metaverse is what I call the world’s greatest playground. But besides that, what it really is, is the next iteration of the web,” said Muhsinah Morris, Ph.D., virtual reality program manager for Morehouse College, in a press statement. “They can create. They can produce. They can market. They can create social events. They can create a place of belonging in the community.”
Morris added, “The future looks a lot like young people being able to come together from countries all over the world in one singular space.”
The slave ship sim is one of the first steps to make African-American history beyond textbooks.
“And I think that people do want to know the history of us as Americans because we all have made significant contributions to this fabric of America. … To expand the story that we’re telling, to build confidence and understandings around how we’re all connected because we have a shared history in this country,” said Monique Earl Lewis, Ph.D., chair of Morehouse College’s Africana Studies and History Department.
Teachers are not the only ones excited to be using a headset. Morehouse College students want an immersive program as well.
“It’s a whole new experience, and you’re meeting and experiencing things first-hand, such as the Underground Railroad,” Morehouse student Tahj Henry Jackson said.
Although it is not yet widely popular, the metaverse has significant players, such as Facebook, Microsoft and Snapchat. Each is attempting to create the best VR experience for the home market.
And while the efforts have been ambitious, there have been challenges.
Facebook, which bought Oculus and has been preparing for the metaverse since 2014, lost more than $10 billion last year with its push into the metaverse. But it is continuing its efforts in virtual reality and augmented reality.