Located in Adelphi Maryland, the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) thrives as a beacon of higher learning to its nearly 80,000 students and faculty. With a rich history dating back to 1947, this esteemed institution stands as the largest in the University System of Maryland, serving a global community of working adults, military service members, veterans, and their families through fully online and hybrid methodology. The mission of UMGC is as inspiring as it is ambitious, striving to “inspire hope, empower dreams, and transform lives… one student at a time.”
The Client’s Journey
As part of UMGC’s continued endeavor to foster a close-knit community amongst their global alumni, the Office of Institutional Advancement set out to plan Homecoming 2023 – Reach for the Stars. This innovative event was conceived as a blend of in-person celebrations across three countries, combined with an immersive virtual experience in the UMGC Metaverse. The goal was simple yet profound – to connect, engage, and empower the UMGC alumni and student body, fostering a community of advocates who would carry the UMGC banner far and wide.
Executing such a groundbreaking event wasn’t without its challenges. UMGC envisioned a sleek, modern, and advanced look for their Networking Lounge, a place where hundreds could gather virtually and interface with the UMGC community. The Networking Lounge was also to be designed for ongoing use cases – after the Homecoming event was over. They also wanted a futuristic Celebration Zone to host a fun, interactive DJ experience. Spatial.io, the chosen platform for this project, posed a limitation of 50 simultaneous users per space. Additionally, UMGC had extensive content requirements for the Networking Lounge, encompassing alumni highlights, images, and videos. The global nature of UMGC’s audience added another layer of complexity, necessitating a 24/7 availability of the experience. Lastly, the UMGC staff and guests were new to the Spatial platform, many of them experiencing the Metaverse for the very first time.
Restricting access to users could significantly dilute the event’s impact, potentially compromising the reach and effectiveness of Homecoming 2023. The deployment of a large volume of content assets also threatened to strain the performance of the space, making efficient content management a paramount concern. The relative inexperience of the UMGC staff and alumni in using Spatial had the potential to create confusion amongst users making an optimal user experience critical to the project’s success.
At Get Real XR, we designed and executed a plan to build an immersive experience that would meet and exceed UMGC’s expectations. Our approach was a blend of real-world inspirations and virtual innovation. The experience consisted of eight total spaces – drawing from the ambiance of atriums, gathering halls, and conference rooms, and infusing them with both realistic and abstract creative elements designed to captivate every visitor.
To overcome the user limitation of the Spatial platform, we recommended a combination of guest specific spaces and Spatial’s server instancing functionality. This allowed for an enhanced user experience with the flexibility to scale as user interest grew. For support, our team led dedicated training sessions for UMGC staff and provided comprehensive live event support to ensure a smooth run of the show during the event.
Impact & Takeaways
The engagement metrics supported the success of the project, highlighted by:
- Over 2200 visits to the Welcome Area (Hub) yielding over 39,000 total user minutes.
- Over 1100 visits to the Networking Lounge, with an average of 24 minutes spent in the experience per visitor.
- Over 13,000 total user minutes spent in the Celebration Zone during the live DJ event
The journey with UMGC showcased Get Real’s ability to blend creativity with technical prowess to deliver a unique virtual immersive experience to the UMGC team, students and alumni. The project underlined why organizations like UMGC continue to innovate using immersive technology to foster stronger ties between key members of their community.
Are you an educational institution or other organization looking to reach a global community by using immersive technology? Are you a leader of a team looking to learn more about how immersive experiences can drive engagement and transform the way you connect with key stakeholders? Go to Get Real at www.getrealxr.com to connect with us to discover how we can build a solution to meet your needs.