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Europe: first 100% virtual campus opens

NEOMA Business School in France has become the first school in Europe to open a 100% digital campus, with the aim of mirroring the interactions and atmosphere of a real campus from a remote location.

NEOMA Business School students can access a virtual building to take their courses, meet with a workgroup, or attend conferences. Photo: NEOMA

The new digital campus had initially been set up for international students

The new digital campus had initially been set up for international students who were unable to make it to one of NEOMA’s three physical campuses at the start of the academic year and it will soon be expanded for everyone’s use.

“You can open a door, raise your hand, sit down, applaud or even play football on the football pitch”

Through the use of a personalised avatar, students can study and progress in the new space 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Once connected, they can access a virtual building to take their courses, meet with a workgroup, or attend conferences.

The school’s services ecosystem, which includes a Talent & Career centre, a wellness centre and library, can also be accessed on the virtual campus.

Alain Goudey, director of NEOMA’s Digital Transformation explained that the avatar “reworks the concept of telepresence by avoiding the tiring aspects of video-conferences”.

“You can open a door, raise your hand, sit down, applaud or even play football on the football pitch,” he said.

“There are many different features that are based on daily, physical gestures and movements, which make the experience natural and enjoyable.”

Developed in partnership with VR/AR technology experts Laval Virtual, the digital campus can also be used as a collaborative workspace to facilitate discussion between members of the NEOMA community – students, professors and employees.

“This way, our students can meet many different players in the tech industry, start-up entrepreneurs as well as research laboratories and members of the Laval Virtual community,” Goudey said.

“Along with this tool, NEOMA and Laval Virtual have also created a unique opportunity to blend business culture and technology culture to encourage different combinations of skills sought after by companies.

“We are going to work closely together to maximise the meeting and discussion opportunities between our two communities,” Goudey added.

“Distance learning through Zoom and video-conferences cannot replace the invaluable contributions of in-class experience,” said Delphine Manceau, dean of NEOMA Business School.

This new virtual campus is midway between these two formats and combines the advantages of digital and physical pedagogic approaches by having them work off each other.”

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