Omniversity is the first university in VR, born from the insatiable desire to access forward-looking education in a playful, immersive, sensorial, holistic manner. The initiative combines education and entertainment into edutainment. Designed as a multiplayer VR game app, students of all ages and nationalities can enroll in experiential learning programs across multiple disciplines.
The VR application offers learning experiences at scale, enabling every student to have access to music labs, science labs, film labs or to worldwide travelling, and experience things that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. The modern classroom can have a place for everyone – children and adults from a multitude of cultural and social backgrounds from all around the world.
The VR application aims to revolutionize learning beyond basic memorization and observation. The students can interact with the material at their own pace. Each class is designed as an interactive simulation where the player learns by doing. Students are invited to learn about a subject by living it.
The Post-Pandemic Context
The pandemic has greased the wheels for digital world’s entrée into higher education, disrupting an education system that many assert was already losing its relevance.
Schools and universities continue to focus on traditional textual-based academic skills and rote learning, rather than on high level skills such as adaptability, critical thinking, empathy or environmental awareness, which will be more important for achieving success in the future. A lot of current learners have difficulties in comprehending information. Students today declare to feel bored, tired, disengaged, and usually not sure why they are learning about a topic in the first place. Universities are still maintaining high prices for what has become, overnight, a dramatically less compelling product offering. The value of formal education has been substantially degraded.
In this context, Omniversity was created as a joint venture of artists, educators and technologists, to offer the long-awaited possibility for learners to study what/when/with whom they wish, achieving a balance between highly personalized learning and collaborative practices.
Transdisciplinary Dream Team
Freshly created in 2020, Omniversity is a start-up with a global scalable potential. The project is founded by Ioana Mischie (CEO), transmedia artist/futurist, joined by Andra Bria (CPO), product designer and innovator. Both co-founders have connected in San Francisco during a global hackathon where they have received awards for their proposals.
With extensive experience in entertainment and creative media, both believe that education needs a boost of playfulness and innovation. As a multi-awarded writer/director, Ioana Mischie also activated as a Fulbright Scholar at USC -School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, California and is teaching transmedia arts at UNATC and UBB and leading classes in collaboration with international universities. Andra Bria founded Craft Product School, a product innovation school, created an Augmented Reality book and leads numerous international workshops on product design.
“Omniversity is, above all, our manifesto for holistic education. By bringing together the most innovative minds in education, arts, technology, science, storytelling and game design, we are hoping to form not only a pioneering community of experiential-minded students, but rather to facilitate a community of visionaries that might dare to advance humankind.” believes Ioana Mischie, who initiated the backbone idea of Omniversity.
“The way we educate and retrain ourselves will be increasingly important in a world where knowledge is taken over by machines. How can we make sure that education is augmenting our capabilities, helping us achieve our full potential, and does that in an inclusive, personalized, and last but not least, in a fun and engaging way? These are the questions that we’re trying to answer through Omniversity, and we couldn’t be more excited about this challenge. “ adds Andra Bria, who leads the product design strategy.
The team is joined by Emil Drăgan as technological strategist and CTO of the start-up, who is a passionate creator of AR and VR and who has signed, so far, numerous immersive projects aiming to upgrade contemporary education. The project relies on an extensive transdisciplinary team.
Current status & Call to Action
In the current phase of development, the pioneering initiative relies on the input of professors and students worldwide.
The team has launched a Call for Entries addressed to all educators and practitioners that aim to translate their practice into enriching immersive experiences.
Students that are interested to test the preliminary versions of the tool are invited to register here.
The Future of Education: global connectivity, immersion & socialization
As numerous institutions and theorists aimed to analyze education in pandemic times, multiple scenarios have emerged. While schools are struggling to integrate hybrid methodologies, there is still a lack of alternatives when it comes to innovative learning.
Omniversity gamifies the learning experience while also encouraging real life learning experiences and opportunities and outdoor exploration. The approach is highly modular, allowing virtual classes to be mostly seen as teasers for societal exploration.
“We aim to facilitate a multi-layered understanding of the world and to empower elevated forms of global teamwork. Although VR as a medium is often regarded as a form of profound isolation, we aim to repurpose it as a solidarity engine.” highlighted Ioana Mischie.
Omniversity will allow students who are physically distant to experience learning as if they are in the same classroom. The VR application promotes group learning and socialization at an international level: students from diverse regions can come together to discuss, synthesize and learn from one another.
At the moment, the initiative is in an advanced development stage, the company actively looking for funding, as well as partnership opportunities with transdisciplinary professionals and learners from around the world.