The University of Iowa welcomes students into the Metaverse

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa and VictoryXR, a Davenport-based company that focuses on virtual reality and augmented reality educational products, held a ribbon cutting ceremony today for UI’s new virtual campus, and then gave a tour, which was streamed on Facebook. The CEO of VictoryXR, along with school leaders, attended via avatar.

VictoryXR has worked with other universities to created virtual education tools and campuses, but says the University of Iowa is the first Big Ten campus to launch a digital twin replica campus to be used for remote, online learning as well as campus labs for residential students. You can read more about their work creating virtual campuses here.

The virtual space is largely focused around the Tippie College of Business, where people can have an interactive experience. Jim Chaffee, chief operations officer for the Tippie College of Business, said people using virtual reality headsets will be able to get a full three-dimensional experience of the building and nearby parts of campus. He says the digital campus is already being used in an MBA class about business technology and an undergraduate business analytics course about visualizing and communicating data. More classes will be added as faculty develop new ways to take advantage of the virtual space.

Other applications for the technology include improving recruitment with international students by being able to virtually walk them around campus, and adding a new layer of connection to remote learning. “I feel like we’re here together. And when we have, whether it is our online MBA students who are all around the world- we’re in 48 states, right now, we’re in multiple countries- when those students have the opportunity to feel like they’re sitting in a room together, that will be a tremendous advantage for us,” said Amy Kristof-Brown, dean of Tippie College of Business, during the virtual tour.

Students need to be registered with VictoryXR to use the platform, and can use a virtual reality headset to get the full 3-D experience, or they can also stick to a 2-D experience using a phone or laptop.

You can watch the full ribbon cutting here.