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Sam Houston State students experience class through the metaverse

Posted at 6:36 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 19:36:58-04

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — The mass communication department at Sam Houston State University has a new media platform class introducing virtual reality through an Oculus headset.

Wojciech Lorenc is the chair of the mass communication department as well as an associate professor at Sam Houston State University and teaches an emerging new media class.

“The new media platform class focuses on emerging media platforms and of course, virtual reality, became a really important topic of discussion last year and it was natural for us to extend the topic of that class to include virtual reality as well,” said Wojciech.

While students may have been used to a Zoom setting in the past, they are now meeting in the metaverse.

“This class has never met in person. I have never met this group of students in person. We never met on Zoom either. The only place we actually met was the virtual replica of our university’s park and plaza, and we meet in virtual reality. We have discussions in virtual reality and really, the entire class is conducted in virtual reality.”

One senior shared how she learned through an Instagram post that her class would be held in the metaverse.

“I found out on Instagram actually,” Genevieve Wilson, senior at Sam Houston State University said. “I saw Wojciech holding an Oculus in front of all these Oculus boxes and the caption was 'new media platform will be held exclusively VR’ and I was like, no. This is a joke. I was like wow, our world has changed a lot for me to be finding this out through our school’s social media.”

The students are working on a major project through the lens of an Oculus headset.

“The big assignment that my students are actually working on right now is actually making a short film in the metaverse,” said Wojciech. “So in the same way we make short films in this department, using actors and using cinematographers and directors, it’s exactly the same process except every single one of these team members is in virtual reality. “

Wilson shared how she enjoyed being able to put together a virtual project with her team.

“The goal is to creatively make something with all of these limitations so just have fun with it and it’ll be good and we did,” said Wilson. It was a lot of fun. It was about a girl (me) at a fake VR bar just sitting alone and these two guys just kind of come up to me and use really bad pickup lines and I disappear on them.”

Wojciech is looking forward to his students being prepared for a future workplace that could revolve around virtual reality.

“It is very important for the mass communication department to incorporate virtual reality into our curriculum,” said Wojciech. We want to make sure that we prepare our students for careers of the future. We don’t just want to prepare them for jobs that existed in the past or exist right now. We want to make sure that when our students graduate, they are ready for whatever is coming next.

Mass communication students will continue to work on creative projects throughout the semester and enjoy all the fun in a virtual world.c