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Photography Class Enters the Metaverse

Students who take Professor Richard Lewis’ photography classes are accustomed to walking the room and critiquing one another’s work – but this academic year, they are strolling through galleries from the comfort of their homes.

Lewis, a 30-year veteran of teaching, recently transitioned two of his photography classes to the metaverse, adopting an immersive, 3D platform in an effort to blend the benefits of in-person teaching with the convenience of learning online.  

“I believe this is the future of online teaching,” said Lewis. “Safe to say this is the first course at Salem State University taught in the metaverse.”

Lewis has now taught three sections of his introductory digital photography course and one section of portrait photography in the metaverse. The virtual space allows students to design their own avatars with their names displayed at the top. These avatars can raise their hands, pass notes to the professor and more.

Lewis selects a meeting location for his classes, often choosing to bring students together in a gallery.

“Seeing the photos that I submitted up on a ‘wall’ is really a new way to see the photos in a new perspective,” said Eli Abbott, a junior majoring in elementary education. “It also gives you a great feeling of accomplishment.” 

Leah Kennedy, a senior majoring in photography, added, “Meeting with Professor Lewis in the metaverse versus other online methods was much more immersive. Meeting through the virtual reality headset really made it feel like we were together even with the physical distance between us,” she said.

The online class is a game changer, Lewis said. “It has revolutionized online teaching for me. The metaverse or virtual reality allows us to achieve the same presence in a room that live teaching does, combined with all the advantages of online teaching.” 

The future is here for online learning, Lewis said. “Online teaching is clearly part of the future of education. Now, the question is, how can we make it better? This is one way.”  

Professor Richard Lewis
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