MANILA – As schools remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, first-year students at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) can still explore campus without having to leave the safety of their homes.
A group of around 80 UST students recreated the university’s 21.5-hectare Manila campus via Minecraft, a popular sandbox video game where players can create virtual worlds.
This will allow some 12,000 first-year students to get a virtual tour of the UST campus, which will serve as an alternative to the Thomasian Welcome Walk, the university said in a statement.
The Thomasian Welcome Walk is an annual tradition where first year students walk through the iconic Arc of the Centuries at the start of each academic year, symbolizing the start of their college life.
âWe thought about creating a virtual campus tour for our freshmen to instill the tradition that UST holds each year,â said Charles Nobleza, a sophomore IT student who directs the UST Minecraft project.
âWe have thought of it as an alternative since we are in a pandemic and we really want the tradition to continue,â he said.
Nobleza said it took his team around 2 months to rebuild the entire campus as well as the buildings in the streets around the university.
To make the virtual world immersive, students can have their in-game avatar wear their respective college uniforms, Nobleza said.
âStudents can enter the halls of every building designated for their college. We have an identification system,â he added.
The virtual world will have a launch and tour on Friday, which will air on the UST Tiger TV Facebook page. The UST Minecraft server will be open for two-hour tours August 29-30 and September 5-6.
Students will be able to access the virtual campus through UST’s online learning platform, Nobleza said.
UST began its week-long freshman orientation last Monday. The activities were carried out online as schools remain closed to avoid exposing students and educators to the risk of contracting COVID-19.
For this academic year, UST said it will implement an “enriched virtual mode, with distance learning facilitated using both online and offline strategies.”
University of Santo Tomas, UST Campus, Virtual Campus Tour, Thomasian Welcome Walk, Education, New Normal Education