Jun 02 2023

National University to Launch New Virtual Campus

California-based HSI says augmented and virtual reality tech will provide ‘powerfully interactive learning experiences’ for students.

One of the nation’s largest Hispanic serving institutions will unveil a new virtual campus for select students later this year, using virtual reality and augmented reality tools to provide enhanced teaching, learning and engagement opportunities.

National University announced the new campus this spring via press release, saying some of its more than 40,000 students will have access to the virtual environment as early as this year. The new campus will re-create “elements of a traditional, physical college campus” including a student center, academic building and recreational spaces while also offering immersive learning experiences such as virtual field trips and a lecture series. Students will be able to explore that environment and interact with their peers and instructors through digital avatars.

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“Immersive technologies like AR and VR are already having a profound impact on day-to-day consumer experiences, with far-reaching implications for society, education and the world of work,” wrote Mark Milliron, president and CEO of National University, in the release. “This is about creating immersive and engaging experiences that can bring the community of campus — and classroom instruction — into the convenience of the digital world.”

LEARN MORE: How Muhsinah Morris is leading Morehouse College into the metaverse.

The campus is being built by developer Axon Park and deepens the San Diego­­­-based university’s VR and XR offerings. In 2020, National received a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to create a VR-based curriculum within its nursing program.

Immersive learning opportunities for students have been expanding in recent years, both on a grand scale with things like digital twin campuses and more targeted programs, especially in healthcare education. The use of VR and AR can also help higher education institutions collaborate in hybrid or HyFlex scenarios, giving students the chance to connect regardless of their physical location.

UP NEXT: How to build an effective blended learning environment in higher education.

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