Virtual reality creates unique spaces and learning opportunities for the next generation of Black professionals.
Morehouse College in Atlanta has become a leader in virtual reality education among historically Black colleges and universities. EdTech: Focus on Higher Education spoke to Muhsinah Morris, Morehouse’s metaversity director, assistant professor and principal investigator of the Morris Research and Innovation Lab, about VR’s unique ability to support Black students and reignite their joy in learning.
EDTECH: What is Morehouse in the Metaverse?MORRIS: Morehouse in the Metaverse started as a proof of concept that a VR campus can come to fruition. Our partner, VictoryXR, has been the secret sauce throughout. It helped us develop a digital twin of Morehouse that’s accessible through various VR headsets. We started off in three courses, and now we have 10 courses that are fully in VR. Students can join from anywhere, but several courses have students bring their headsets to class so they can experience the Metaverse together.
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EDTECH: How have students responded to learning in VR?MORRIS: Seniors who took advanced inorganic chemistry felt they would have been better chemists if they had this in their freshman year. In this course, you have to be able to visualize molecules and molecular geometry and understand complex chemical reactions. VR helps students visualize the molecular world in a way they haven’t been able to the entire time they’ve been studying chemistry. They get to experience molecules blown up to room size. They were able to do problem-based learning activities. A lot of them want to go into health professions, so they could explore inside a body and look at anatomical structures.
EDTECH: How is VR especially valuable for HBCUs?MORRIS: As an HBCU, a lot of our pedagogy is based on culturally responsive spaces and making sure our students can identify with content that typically doesn’t feel like it’s for them. We’re creating an engaging space that they want to inhabit and that makes them feel comfortable.
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