Morehouse College is making history as the first college or university to offer classes in the metaverse, reports WBS-TV.
During class, students will wear virtual reality headsets to experience what it was like on a slave ship, take part in the Haitian Revolution, travel the numerous stops on the Underground Railroad, or witness the “I Have a Dream” speech in a virtual 3D space where they can interact with each other using avatars.
“That is an experience that they would not have if they were sitting in a classroom if they were sitting in a lecture,” Hamilton said. “When you go there and see the bottom of a slave ship, see the slaves packed in together … you will have a new appreciation and you have a greater knowledge of how the events took place.”
Muhsinah Morris, Ph.D., an assistant professor in chemistry at Morehouse and director of the Virtual Reality Project, believes that the metaverse is the perfect landscape for learning where students can visit the past and imagine the future.
“The metaverse is what I call the world’s greatest playground. But besides that, what it really is, is the next iteration of the web,” said Morris. “You want to climb mountains? Let’s go, you know? Let’s go to Mount Everest. They need to know how to use it regardless of what field they’re in, regardless of whether they can code or not.”
“We can give that to our students. And it’s such a gift because we had to read encyclopedias, right? And that information was stagnant. This is happening in real-time in three dimensions,” Morris added. “I can go to Glasgow, and I can go to universities there and be in their midst and experience how they live. That’s what this technology does.”
Jerad Evan Young, a sophomore majoring in cinema, television and emerging media studies, spoke about how emotional the experience was.
“It definitely evokes emotions of sorrow,” Young said. “Also, there’s a sense of pride because not everybody made it through the slave trade. You know, you had to really be a strong individual. So, that let me know that my ancestors were strong enough to last that grueling journey across the sea.”
Morris said the mission of the program is to “overcome 20 generations of what could not be.”
“Young Black men and Black people in America for 20 generations were kept from becoming educated,” she said. “And the only thing that I think can overcome those 20 generations is having ownership and autonomy in a space that is technologically moving things forward.”
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, by 2040, 54% of technology experts believe the metaverse will be a regular part of daily life for half a billion people.