Deloitte Insights – A brave new world with virtual worlds

Looking to virtual worlds to enable equity

Heather Haseley and Dan Munnerley of Arizona State University’s Learning Futures Collaboratory are envisioning the future of learning three to five years from now, directing volunteer-sourced minimum viable products that might scale into future tools enabling ASU students to interact with each other and their teachers in a more equitable and enhanced way. The lab runs 62 concurrent pilots and builds communities of practice across a multitude of technologies, but immersive learning and immersive technologies are front-of-mind. “The technology has caught up with the need,” Haseley says; Munnerley explains, “Extended reality is one of our workstreams. What was one of seven workstreams, though, has become one of the most prominent workstreams.”

As part of this workstream, Haseley and Munnerley were in charge of hosting the Learning (Hu)man Conference, where attendees could network and learn about the ASU culture. Due to the rapid development and scalability of a collaboration tool, the team was able to launch the conference, which saw more than 450 participants attend a virtual-world platform created in six months.

What they discovered is that people highly value serendipitous interactions, making this technology ideal for facilitating office hours, learning, and services. And they were able to conduct a playful conference filled with music, with six bands further drawing attendees who might have been dialing in from the integrated videoconferencing platform into the virtual world. Another appealing, humanizing feature: a concierge service that greeted attendees by name as they entered the virtual world, making them feel more comfortable and at ease in the environment.

Through the planning, Haseley and Munnerley aimed to increase accessibility, delivering solutions that enabled multiple modalities of collaboration: videoconferencing, mobile, closed captioning, and virtual worlds. The beauty of a virtual world is that it enables users to scale their participation by incorporating many of these technologies, so no one participant is forced into any given technology while trying to collaborate and communicate with others.

Deloitte, 2021
A Brave New World with Virtual Worlds