Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning (EELL) is excited to host a Metaverse pilot during the upcoming cohort of The Executive Program (TEP), starting in October 2023. We’re in the process of creating a Darden classroom environment for real-time experiential instructional sessions, along with Darden-themed social environments for networking and engagement during the program’s six-month span. Through development support from the Darden Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning, this experience will serve as a basis for Darden to explore and develop experimental cases and experiential activities that we can implement across various in-person, hybrid and digital programs — both within EELL and across the enterprise.

While we work on finalizing these new experiences to preview and share, let’s address a few questions about what to expect.

Why did we select TEP to pilot this experience?

TEP was chosen as the pilot program for the Darden Metaverse for two key reasons:

  • TEP is intentionally structured with two, two-week in-person modules with a six-month intercession in between the modules. During the intercession, there are a few touch points to deepen participants’ knowledge around selected topics and also to maintain connection with their Darden faculty team and their cohort, who are based all over the world. We thought this experience could be enhanced by utilizing the Metaverse during the intercession to provide a new platform for building these connections with each other.
  • As executive leaders at their organization, TEP participants need to be aware of the emerging technologies that could disrupt their industries. We wanted to expose participants to the Metaverse so that they can be ahead of the curve in understanding the capabilities and possibilities of the technology and what it could mean for their own organizations.

What can participants expect with the Metaverse experience?

The Metaverse allows faculty and participants to interact and engage in a fully immersive, virtual environment. In this experience, participants can join scheduled and on-the-fly sessions in academic and social environments using Meta Quest 2 headsets, which will be provided to the TEP participants to use throughout the duration of the program. Within these academic and social environments, faculty will present content and participants can expect to communicate, move, and interact with their peers and faculty.

How are we planning to leverage this pilot to learn and expand the experience in future programs, events and projects?

By providing a comprehensive Metaverse experience across TEP’s six-month learning journey, we hope to have the flexibility to experiment with how to enhance the learning experience and environment overall, see how the Metaverse can be implemented to make teaching and learning as inclusive as possible to address different learning styles and preferences at a distance, and create shared sense of community with our global learners.

For expansion of the Metaverse, we’ll take our learnings and feedback to develop a suite of experimental cases that we can further implement in various programs, events, etc. as part of an innovation lab within Darden EELL.