virtual graduation
Unable to hold physical graduation ceremonies, virtual graduations are on the rise in Japan. Source: Kazuhiro Nogi/ AFP

In these unprecedented times in the midst of a pandemic, schools and universities are looking for different ways to keep courses going.

Many are cancelled or postponed — much to the dismay of students who have spent the last few years dreaming of the day they can finally don a graduation cap and gown to accept their diploma as their friends and family watch and cheer proudly.

virtual graduation

Graduation ceremonies typically held over the summer will not be able to proceed as normal this year due to COVID-19. Source: Jim Watson/AFP

But Breakthrough Business University in Japan decided to go ahead with a graduation ceremony despite social distancing and lockdowns — by holding a virtual one.

Using Zoom — the popular videoconferencing platform — and Newme mobile robots, the ceremony went on as usual at Hotel Grand Palace in Tokyo on March 28, despite students and their families not being physically present.

Through this innovative virtual ceremony, management and business graduates got the chance to experience walking across the stage and accepting their diplomas.

According to Business Insider, when a graduate’s name was called out, the robot moved to where the university’s president Omae Kenichi stood on stage. Then, the graduate’s face was streamed on the tablet as they received their diploma.

Dean of Global Business Administration Professor Shugo Yanaka planned the virtual graduation ceremony.

Only four students — who controlled the robots via remote controls — and a few administrators were physically in attendance at the ceremony.

Creating virtual graduation ceremonies through Minecraft

Students at an elementary school in Japan also decided to hold their graduation ceremony virtually through the use of the popular world-building game Minecraft.

Shuhei Kashiwara told TODAY that his 10-year-old son, Iyori built a graduation ceremony with his friends in the game because he was “feeling a bit sad about not seeing his friends and missing out on the end of his school year”.

Iyori was set to graduate from the fourth grade and move onto the fifth grade in April and found a way to design a graduation ceremony through the game.

In the game, Iyori and his kids created a gymnasium where the promotion exercises would be held, as well as a large banner that read “summer” hanging above the students who were being promoted to the next grade.

The project even inspired university students at the University of Pennsylvania, who recreated their entire campus on Minecraft and are planning to collaborate with universities on other virtual projects using the game.

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