Omniversity, the world's first college entirely in virtual reality, aims to tackle the problems facing modern education "in a playful, immersive, sensorial, holistic manner."
They always told me that "college will be the best years of your life." Until last year, that was probably a fair summary of my experience. But then the cruel wind of change hit... and it all went to pot.
Something that became exceeding clear as I finished my undergraduate degree "long distance" is not just the limitations of remote learning technology, but the wider problems facing modern education.
Omniversity aims to address both of these areas. Established last year, Omniversity is the brainchild its co-founders: transmedia artist Ioana Mischie and innovator & educator Andra Bria. This partnership represents the interception of art and enterprise, a duality at the heart of what is working to become the world's first entirely virtual university experience.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that current circumstances (you know, deadly global pandemic and all that) were the primary inspiration for the project, but in reality the intention was far more fundamental:
How can we make sure that education is augmenting our capabilities, helping us achieve our full potential, and does that in an inclusive, personalized, and last but not least, in a fun and engaging way? These are the questions that we’re trying to answer through Omniversity, and we couldn’t be more excited about this challenge.
Standard educational practices, which are more often than not memorisation driven, have more and more been critiqued as ineffective, draining and alienating to large swathes of the student population. Omniversity attempts to surpass these limitations and open up education with a combination of creativity and technology; allowing students to learn from intuitive, interactive VR gaming applications - all at their own pace.
Omniversity will be a learning platform with limitless possibilities. The trailer shows us exactly what that means in practical terms; students of all ages and backgrounds could have virtual access to musical instruments, science experiments under the sea, or hands on experience with ancient historical artefacts.
Being such an ambitious project, the team are on the look-out for collaborators from across the educational spectrum. The start-up has made a Call for Entries, looking for both students and educators to help develop Omniversity. The team hopes to help "all educators and practitioners that aim to translate their practice into enriching immersive experiences."
The project is currently in an advanced development stage and the company are actively looking for funding. Omniversity co-founder and CPO Andra Bria has announced that an investors pitch will be held on the audio platform Clubhouse, on Friday the 15th of January at 8pm Eastern Time (or 3:00 am EET.) If you have any questions or would like to learn more, I'd recommend going along.