Moving beyond basic online learning, Morehouse College is now offering two classes held in virtual reality (VR) for the spring semester.
While the COVID-19 pandemic saw many colleges shift to virtual learning, Morehouse College is making an even bigger leap. “The classes are more than online virtual, they are fully immersive in VR,” the college said in a statement.
While Morehouse is providing the faculty and curriculum for the courses, it has partnered with private sector firms for the technology and infrastructure needed to teach in VR.
For the physical technology for the VR courses, Morehouse is using a donation from Qualcomm Technologies. Students enrolled in the VR courses will be given Oculus Quest 2, which is supported by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Platform. With the new tech, students can access what the college describes as a “fully immersive, digitized version of the Morehouse campus and select classes.”
The school is also working with VictoryXR to create the digital campus and learning objects. In the VR campus, students will be able to attend classes together in real-time, conduct science experiments, and dig for fossils. While the digital campus will mimic the physical one, it also offers opportunities that cannot happen in the real world. Morehouse said that in the virtual world students can “expand a human heart and step inside it, jump into a time machine and visit wooly mammoths, or beam up to a starship and learn astronomy close up.”
Morehouse selected one biology course and one history course to roll out the new learning model. However, Morehouse said these aren’t the only courses experimenting with VR. Morehouse is also experimenting with VR in chemistry and literature courses.
“Higher ed must not be afraid to take remote learning to a more immersive and effective level,” said Dr. Ovell Hamilton, who is teaching the VR history course this semester. “With this virtual reality campus, students will be able to travel back in time and stand on a Naval carrier or travel to places across the globe.”