Morehouse ‘Metaverisity’
By Oz Online | Published on August 11, 2023

When the pandemic hit, traditional ways of doing school were uprooted by an increased reliance upon online and asynchronous classes. Students started receiving fewer opportunities to interact with their peers and teachers in a classroom setting, causing many of them to disengage from their studies. 

Morehouse College was quick to recognize this trend and released the world’s first “Metaversity” in 2021. The digital replica of the campus is a VR-operated learning space where students essentially have the opportunity to play a live video game, but it’s school. 

“[It] became our solution to increase attendance rates, reduce student recidivism, and make sure that they continue to persist in their majors,” explained Morehouse’s Metaversity Director, Muhsinah Morris. “We wanted our students to be more engaged than just sitting in another Zoom classroom.” 

Once a student puts on their VR and spawns into Morehouse’s cyber twin, they can navigate the campus, sit in their classrooms, and interact with their teachers as if they are truly there. Furthermore, VR allows teachers to generate unique learning environments like historical events, galaxies, and chemical bonding. 

This is particularly helpful in the chemistry lab where students can practice experiments without risking any serious mistakes or when a history teacher can bring their class to see a simulation of trench warfare in World War 1.

The Metaversity started with three course offerings and is now proud to offer thirteen per semester in subjects like chemistry, English, history, and journalism. In those classes, students have a 10% higher attendance rate than their in-person counterparts and their grades have increased by nearly 12%. 

While many schools are interested in a Meta campus and the benefits it can bring, the costs associated form a significant barrier. The development of the digital campus costs $50,000 and each VR headset costs $500, and Morehouse currently has about 500 of them, bringing their estimated total expense to roughly $300,000. 

This is a sizable investment for Morehouse that they consider well-worth it,  and big names like Meta, T-Mobile, and Qualcomm helped to offset costs by providing grants that funded the creation of their Metaversity. 

“Most HBCUs are broadband deserts, and most rural or inner-city schools have poor access to emerging technology,” said Morris. “That is why it is so important for the world to see Black young men at Morehouse at the forefront of an innovative effort like this that is transforming education.”


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