Dawn breaks on a gorgeous morning in summer 2025. Peter has been waiting for this for months. It’s New Student Orientation Day at My University, Peter’s customized version of four formerly separate independent colleges that functionally merged several years earlier.
The Student Experience in 2025
Orientation through VR
He readies himself quickly and by 8:30 a.m. carefully opens the box he recently received from Student Life. He takes out the virtual reality (VR) visor, adjusts it, and touches the switch. Instantly, he is on campus, being welcomed by Perpetua, his personal orientation leader. VR has made it possible for each student to have a fully individualized campus that is populated with other students (also in VR mode) who may be physically located anywhere, but whose campus experience is in the VR university.
Perpetua escorts Peter to the session, where she introduces him to several other students. All of them will get to know each other well, as they all will be enrolled in the same set of courses and will participate in many other activities together.
Scheduling through AI
Peter’s small group joins other students for the program. Several skits and presentations that cover the usual topics for new student orientation provide virtual interactive roles for new students to play. After the orientation session, Peter and his friends are told to check their Personal Learning Space for important updates.
Peter discovers that while he was orienting, the smart registration and student information system had identified him through a visor-based retinal scan, analyzed his academic file, and already handled registration and filed all his course materials in his personal cloud storage. Bidding Perpetua and his new friends goodbye, Peter leaves the VR campus and goes about his day.
Fully-Immersive Course Content
Two days later, Peter is ready to attend class. He finds that the learning experience is equally immersive. Through state-of-the-art real presence, each student interacts with other learners and the faculty member. It’s as if Peter’s living room has turned into a holodeck: Course content is fully immersive, so he is virtually present during the building of the pyramids, or the Gettysburg battle, or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In a real sense, the classroom has become his green screen.
Peter’s competency evaluations will also take advantage of VR when possible, and so they may entail running virtual what-if scenarios of alternative outcomes to famous historical events, or doing careful real-time comparisons of artifacts that reside in different museums, or performing with musical players in virtual orchestras at a level of sophistication that the composer Eric Whitacre can only dream of today.
Peter often attends class while standing or sitting on a mat that allows him full range of motion to physically engage in the learning by walking around each virtual set.
(Next page: The faculty experience in 2025)