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Morehouse College Gives a Glimpse of the Future of Education: Virtual Reality

ATLANTA — Morehouse College, the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee, and Senator Ralph Warnock, will lead higher education into a new frontier this spring as students will be offered two classes held in virtual reality (VR).

“Providing an immersive classroom experience for our students during this pandemic is important and Morehouse College is pleased to lead the way,” said Dr. Kendrick Brown, Provost of Morehouse College.

The classes are more than online virtual, they are fully immersive in VR. With a donation from Qualcomm Technologies, students will be given an Oculus Quest 2, powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ XR2 Platform, where they can access the fully immersive, digitized version of the Morehouse campus and select classes. 

“We believe that immersive education through VR is a transformative way to learn,” said Brian Vogelsang, senior director of product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “It’s great to see Qualcomm® XR Enterprise Program partner, VictoryXR, continue to help scale VR education, especially with an acclaimed college like Morehouse.”  

The first two classes taught on the digital twin VR campus have been Biology 105, focusing on men’s health, taught by Dr. Ethell Vereen and History 112, focusing on world history and taught by Dr. Ovell Hamilton. Dr. Muhsinah Morris also launched a course in VR and is assisting collaborators at VictoryXR in develop chemistry content for VR that had not existed before, while Dr. Tanya Clark launched a VR course for her popular Blacks in Wonderland First Year Experience course. Dushunte Carmon, assistant director of sponsored academic initiatives at Morehouse, has also been instrumental in creating new virtual experiences for students and helping to bring about innovation that will be used as a model at other institutions. 

“Higher ed must not be afraid to take remote learning to a more immersive and effective level,” said Dr. Ovell Hamilton. “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.”

While Morehouse College provides the students, faculty, and curriculum, the digital campus and learning objects are provided by VictoryXR. Steve Grubbs, the company CEO, commented, “This partnership gives the rest of the academic world a glimpse into the future of education. These classes will be surprisingly close to those imagined in the book, "Ready Player One."

Just like a real campus, a VR campus allows students to attend class together in real time, conduct science experiments, and dig for fossils. Unlike a real campus, students on the VR campus 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.