Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities sent students home and switched over to online courses to finish out the semester. For many graduating seniors, that meant commencement weekend was either canceled or postponed.
Miami University and Subvrsive entered into an agreement to provide students a meaningful way to celebrate their academic achievements on their originally scheduled graduation date. The university sought to host a virtual commencement ceremony over the weekend of May 16 and 17 to honor each graduating Miami University student and showcase the Miami experience.
Working with about 40 students and faculty within the department of emerging technology in business and design, Subvrsive created seven unique virtual graduation ceremonies – one for each college – that allowed students to enjoy an immersive commencement experience within a virtual replica of the Miami University campus. Friends and family were invited to view the festivities via live video streams on YouTube and Facebook.
The VR Experience
All graduating students were invited to participate in an immersive and interactive commencement experience. A first-of-its-kind endeavor, the web-based multi-platform VR experience allowed students to choose a custom-designed Miami-themed avatar and join a computer-generated 3D space that resembled Miami’s campus. Within the space, students could move about freely, interact with one another through voice or chat, and view all of the commencement speeches and content being live-streamed to YouTube and Facebook on virtual screens within the environment.
The Live Streams
Family, friends, and faculty could all join the celebrations by tuning in live to any scheduled ceremony on YouTube or Facebook. Each unique event opened with a 30-minute pre-ceremony show that showcased student life through highlight reels, interviews with students and staff, and special performances by various student groups. The commencement ceremonies themselves included speeches from Miami University President Gregory Crawford, Governor Mike DeWine, deans of Miami’s colleges, and special guests. To make the ceremony feel even more special, the live stream included a segment featuring congratulatory messages from special guests alongside a presentation of personalized digital graduation caps, designed and submitted ahead of time by graduating students. The seven ceremonies received a combined total of over 100,000 views on YouTube and Facebook.
In addition to the live events, Subvrsive created a few extra experiences to help maximize the spirit of celebration for Miami’s 2020 commencement.
Family and friends were all invited to congratulate the graduates by submitting heartfelt messages and photos to a custom microsite. By the end of graduation weekend, over 6,000 messages were submitted and displayed on the site alongside a curated feed of social posts containing the #MiamiOHGrad hashtag.
Subvrsive also designed a custom MiamiOHGrad Snapchat filter to allow users to take festive photos in a red graduation cap in front of several iconic campus locations. The filter was used over 8,000 times.