Classroom full of students and instructors
Upper-division students in UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business go boldly “Into the Metaverse,” a first-of-its-kind virtual course taught by lecturer Larry Wilk (right) and technology teaching lead Keri Albers (far left). Dean Ian O. Williamson (fourth from left in front row) joined the class as a guest on Oct. 2. Tyler Robinson / UCI

A new era of immersive and 3D classrooms will enable students in UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business to learn in a virtual reality environment. In partnership with VictoryXR, the school is creating a cutting-edge digital twin, known as a metaversity, that will facilitate collaboration between students and professors in a simulated campus setting.

The digital twin of the Merage School offers a faithful representation of the physical campus and extends its possibilities into the virtual realm. It also creates a space for global engagement opportunities for international alumni, current and prospective student communities, and other business partners worldwide.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, the Merage School will host a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of the metaversity. After the event, students from the fall 2023 “Into the Metaverse” class being taught by business lecturer Larry Wilk will pilot presenting and collaborating on assignments together in an interactive representation of the Merage School. The first of its kind in the University of California system, the groundbreaking course’s 40 students are equipped with Meta Quest 2 headsets and are learning in an immersive environment.

“The digital twin of the Merage School represents the start of a journey for our university,” said Tom Andriola, UCI vice chancellor for data and information technology. “By merging cutting-edge technology with traditional academic settings, we’re creating a new paradigm for the learning environment and planting the seeds for new models of experience and engagement.”

Dean Ian O. Williamson added: “This innovative initiative reaffirms The Paul Merage School of Business’ commitment to providing our students with a world-class education with an emphasis on leadership for a digitally driven world. And this is just the most recent manifestation of that core value. We’re excited to see how this venture will help shape the future of higher education.”

UCI’s Office of Data and Information Technology is supporting the endeavor, led by Keri Albers, its digital innovation project manager and technology teaching lead for “Into the Metaverse.”