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Into the Metaverse

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USW Faculty experiencing the Metaverse
July 15, 2022
In the Spring of 2022, the university received a grant of from the J.F Maddox Foundation to fund a proof-of-concept project to test the viability of integrating virtual reality technology into a traditional campus curriculum. The pilot project will purchase fifty (50) VR headsets for student use, as well as the requisite integration courseware. The project will also require a subject matter expert (SME) to adapt the existing program/curriculum to appropriately reflect the objectives and assessment opportunities presented by using the technology.

Dr. Tipton, interim President of USW, states; “we are incredibly excited about this project, as the university has become quite adept at online instruction, in addition to preserving our traditional campus. Experimenting with this emerging technology is the next step for us. The pandemic has forced universities to explore innovative methods of recruiting and retaining traditional on-campus students that combine the benefits of emerging technology with the best practices in student engagement. Advances in VR technology have resulted in more affordable entry price points for using the equipment and software in the classroom. This provides a unique opportunity for USW to explore the possibilities of developing an integrated curriculum that combines virtual/augmented reality with traditional on-campus education.”

The pilot project will be evaluated through two distinct mechanisms; student success and student feedback. Adapted course objectives and assessments from the VR-integrated course will be compared against the traditional curriculum counterpart to evaluate student performance and engagement. The comparison will test for a statistically significant difference in student success between the two course offerings. Additionally, a robust end-of-course survey will be provided to students in the VR-integrated course that seeks qualitative feedback from students regarding their experience with the adapted class. Upon completion of the pilot project, the university will have a greater breadth of knowledge about integrating VR technology into a traditional campus experience. This knowledge will lead to more informed decision-making when allocating institutional resources for innovative projects of this type.

USW plans to offer the first pilot course in the Fall semester.