Delphine Manceau, dean of NEOMA Business School in France, believes that the experimental phase of using new technology to create virtual experiences for students is over, and a more mature approach is now needed to develop the teaching models of tomorrow.
At NEOMA, that’s the case with the school’s virtual campus, a ‘NEOPedagogy model’ that combines face-to-face learning, synchronous distance learning, and asynchronous online learning.
“Our virtual campus is a kind of metaverse applied to higher education," Delphine explains. "It enables the interactions and atmosphere of a real campus in a digital learning and student environment.”
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The technologies that make up the metaverse can include Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), ‘Metaversal’ worlds like that seen in video games like Fortnite, as well as a digital economy in which we create, buy, and sell goods.
So far, in the world of work and education, it’s VR that is the technological frontrunner. The likes of Meta’s Horizon Workrooms offers participants the chance to be in the same room as colleagues for virtual meetings, while Microsoft’s Mesh for Microsoft Teams offers that plus the chance to be virtually present on a factory floor.
As business schools are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and ramp up their commitment to training the next generation of sustainable leaders, business education could be ripe for disruption from the technologies central to the development of the metaverse.
The air travel necessary for study abroad trips and inviting guest speakers to campus could be replaced by students signing in virtually to a manufacturing plant in China or tech HQ in Silicon Valley, and guest speakers delivering conference talks as a virtual Avatar.
A metaverse business school use case?
ESSEC Business school, for example, has eliminated all long-haul travel to reduce its carbon footprint and has introduced virtual reality (VR) headsets for students already, so that they can still enjoy a similar experience to being in person.
The school plans to use VR so that students can remotely attend conferences, summits, and company networking events, connecting with key business individuals from around the world.
Technological disruption and the implementation of refined technologies into the virtual learning environment is set to be one of the key trends in higher education in 2022.
"For business educators, the year 2022 will see the refinement of the blended learning techniques we engaged with over the past two years in a way that enhances the overall experience for students," explains Vincent Mak, professor of marketing & decision sciences and vice dean for programs & research at Cambridge Judge Business School.
"We now know that programs of the highest quality can be delivered online, and we also know that many students crave in-person interactions and, importantly, that a hybrid pedagogical approach can enhance both elements."
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