Morehouse launches Black history metaverse course for spring semester

This first-of-its-kind course will will see students interact with one another in a virtual 3D space using avatars.

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Morehouse College in Atlanta will offer a Black history course taught solely in the metaverse starting in spring 2023.

According to NBC News, this first-of-its-kind course is led by Professor Ovell Hamilton and will see students interact with one another in a virtual 3D space using avatars. The course is titled “History of the African Diaspora Since 1800,” and is part of the school’s Virtual Reality Project.

Atlanta’s illustrious Morehouse College, the only all-male HBCU in America, is preparing to launch the Black Men’s Research Institute. (Photo: Mike Stewart/AP)

“We believe that immersive education through VR is a transformative way to learn,” said Brian Vogelsang, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., in a 2021 statement amid the campus’ history-making move to offer its first class in the metaverse. 

At the time, Morehouse partnered with VictoryXR to help scale VR education at the college and Hamilton was one of 11 professors to use the technology. He instructed a Black history course outside of Morehouse titled “Journey for Civil Rights.” 

“Journey for Civil Rights” serves as the inspiration for his first full course in the metaverse. The “History of the African Diaspora Since 1800″ will reportedly recreate important moments and artifacts starting from the Haitian Revolution to the civil rights movement. 

Students will wear a virtual reality headset during class to experience the brutality of enslavement on a slave ship, lying in chains on top of one another, and faced with the terrifying choice between freedom through death or life in bondage. 

In the metaverse, students are able to tour a slave ship and the Underground Railroad, or attend Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington. The new course will recreate the La Amistad slave ship, the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and battlefields during the Civil War and World War I, according to the NBC News report.

By teaching in the metaverse, Hamilton says students are better able to digest the course material and become more engaged with it. 

“That is an experience that they would not have if they were sitting in a classroom, if they were sitting in a lecture,” Hamilton said.

“When you go there and see the bottom of a slave ship, see the slaves packed in together … you will have a new appreciation and you have a greater knowledge of how the events took place,” he added.

There are currently 10 courses in the metaverse offered by Morehouse College in departments including journalism, English, biology and sociology.

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