Stanford is Hosting a Class Soley in VR With a Quest 2 and the Metaverse

by in Technology | Dec, 14th 2021

The Quest 2 has been on the rise for being one of the most widely accessible headsets on the market, with the headset also being used inside and outside of work. Meta’s has also played a part in getting more people interested in VR with the push for a “Metaverse”, introducing the use of VR in daily life, displayed with a class in Stanford that is solely hosted in the medium.

It seems that this push is starting to gain traction, as Stanford University is hosting one of its classes on the platform.

Stanfords VR Centric Class

The class in question, Communication 166, is hosted by Professor Jeremy Bailenson, who’s been working with virtual reality and augmented reality for most of his career. He plans on teaching the class using the Oculus Quest 2. The course is going to loan the students a Quest 2, with the stipulation that the headset is returned to the school after the course concludes at the end of the semester.

The provided description of the course elaborates on the goals of this college course: “Virtual Reality is becoming mainstream, with more than ten million systems being used in the United States alone. This class examines VR from the viewpoint of various disciplines, including popular culture, engineering, behavioral science, and communication. Each student will receive an Oculus Quest 2 headset, and the bulk of our learning will occur while immersed in VR.”

The structure for the course has student reading and a response paper of the content, which is followed up by the students meeting in Virtual Reality using ENGAGE together. Some solo excursions into the VR world will be required as the syllabus page for the course mentions, as well as watching 360-degree videos in VR. Sometimes, the class will also sit in on meditation classes in Altspace VR as well. 

This new form of learning through technology like virtual reality could spell a whole new way of remote learning. While students stay home they can learn inside of virtual reality. Students can sit in digital classrooms, and work with one another in a virtual environment. 

With the Stanford class being exclusively in VR and inside the Metaverse, there are plenty of things that students will learn about the current state and the future of virtual reality. Mark Zuckerberg has also chimed in on the course itself as well, stating in a Facebook post “Just heard Stanford will offer a class taught completely in virtual reality using Quest. It’s great to see the tech make education more immersive. Maybe I would have stayed in school longer if I could have taken my classes in VR…”

With the increased interest in VR, and Meta’s push for a Metaverse, this is a look into the future that Meta is wanting their consumer base to become a part of. However, one question remains. With the start of courses like the Stanford VR class, and the continuation of Meta’s overarching goals, is the Metaverse that Meta wants obtainable?

Is Meta’s Metaverse Obtainable?

The world that Meta is aiming for is a world where VR has become a part of daily life, with people using Meta’s Headsets for both work and play. The goal of the company is to keep users inside the headset for as long as possible. However, is this attainable or does it remain inside the bounds of fiction?

The truth is, while VR is coming more and more into the mainstream, there are still some things that reality can do that aren’t feasible in the virtual world. With the idea of the Quest 2 still being more of a gaming device than something used for both work and play. Meta has been changing that with the introduction of software like Horizons Workspace, they still haven’t been able to conquer all of the senses to make the most immersive experience in VR. 

Concepts like VR controllers have been capable of new experiences, but imitating the sense of touch, smell, and other senses would be a big ask of the current headsets. On top of making the headsets more affordable, all the other technology would have to become more affordable as well. There’s a limit to what VR is capable of as well. With all this in mind, if the time came for this technology to become readily available, there would be people who would not be willing to leave reality behind to join the virtual world. While it may seem realistic for people to live their lives in VR, there’s still the fact that some people prefer going outside, and living their lives in the real world instead and won’t be interested in this technology. 

While the Stanford class is a step in the direction that Meta seems to be aiming for with the Metaverse, as of now, the VR-centric future remains inside the works of fiction


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