Can you study retailing without ever having shopped? Can you study advertising without ever having watched an ad? Can you study value creation on the metaverse without ever having engaged in social interactions in a virtual world? The answer seems obvious, but it is not, at least not regarding the #metaverse, where scholarly experience is still a scarce resource. To push the state of exploration forward, we invited fellow researchers and educators along with interested others for a Panel Discussion of „How Immersive Technology Will Impact Research & Education“ — about the metaverse, and taking place IN the metaverse. We ended up with more than 40 participants – the maximum capacity our virtual lecture hall allowed us to host!
A truly stellar assembly!
The panelists were a truly stellar assembly – thought leaders in their fields, global, cross-disciplinary, and diverse in more than one way! While distinguished innovation scholar Min Ding from Penn State (US) highlighted the broad usability of immersion-rich virtual environments for research, digital transformation expert Sebastian Hohenberg from our very own Universität Münster pointed at specific requirements that need to be considered when making use of the metaverse as a research setting.
Shifting the debate to educational uses of immersive environments, Nilusha Aliman, doctoral student at Münster University’s XRLab@MCM and co-author of the seminal paper on metaverse social interactions (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11747-022-00908-0,) and renowned media scientist Paolo Granata from the University of Toronto named several learnings from running classes and seminars with students in the metaverse. As you might guess, the moderator (that’s yours truly!) was in awe and deeply thankful for everyone’s engagement in this “premiere”.
To create what’s IMPOSSIBLE!
To reflect the experiential potential of the 3D medium, and very much in line with Paolo’s call for using the powers of the metaverse not only for replicating what’s possible in the physical world (like we do with our VRChat Inc. auditorium, though it was situated adjacent to Münster’s Aa lake where the Bürgermeister would probably not allow us to have built in physical reality…), but also to create what’s IMPOSSIBLE in it, we then teleported the attendants to Münster’s finest (and only! 😉) island. There they could reflect on the arguments just made by the panelists while enjoying the sunny beach, summerly background music, and virtual drinks (German beer anyone?). We had also prepared some other special treats like jet packs and gliders, which enabled anyone who dared to explore the island from sky-high. As you might have expected, the session went a little over time…
Meeting in the Metaverse, or producing something that will be more lasting than your last Zoom call
It was marvelous to see the different groups of people standing at different parts of our island, giving us the idea that we might have produced something that will be more lasting than another Zoom conference call. A huge shout out to everyone who contributed, and a special one for Liam Mckill and Münster student and XRLab@MCM tech master Jérôme Loucatos, who have created and prepared our virtual worlds. And, of course, to the whole team from VM people and especially Thomas Zorbach for creating IMMERSIVE X as a two-day metaverse conference (https://immersive-x.de/program-2023), to which our sessions were also privileged to contribute! You are the true innovators and make the virtual a reality!
Foto: The panel (from right to left: Sebastian, Min, Paolo, Nilusha & me) and its metaverse audience — watch for the elves!