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How to Hold a Virtual Graduation Ceremony

Jennifer L. Betts
Students throwing caps at graduation

You've been looking forward to your graduation ceremony for years. However, as the big day nears, you realize that having an in-person graduation ceremony is just not going to be feasible. What should you do? Have a virtual graduation ceremony, of course. Learn how to have a virtual graduation ceremony using Second Life, Minecraft or Zoom.

How to Use Second Life for a Virtual Graduation Ceremony

If you're looking to give your students as close as possible to the real-life experience of a graduation, you might want to try the immersion simulation of Second Life. Using an avatar, online students can experience everything from the speeches, getting their diploma and attending with their online friends and classmates. To set up a virtual graduation ceremony in Second Life, you'll need a few things.

Getting the Tools and Setting Up the Location

First and foremost, you'll need to create a location in Second Life. This means that you'll need to download the software and either find or create a space for the ceremony. For example, many colleges already have online campuses and auditoriums already created in Second Life that you might be able to use. You can also use a sandbox space to build a temporary stage and area for student seating. This can work great for distance learning high school and college students.

Having a Virtual Graduation in Minecraft

Minecraft is a fun virtual game that allows you to connect with friends and create virtual worlds. It's also something that many of your high school and even elementary students will already have access too. This makes it a great virtual environment for creating a graduation ceremony. Just ask the elementary students in Japan!

Tools You Need

To create a Minecraft graduation, you'll need to have access to the game. It is available on computers, mobile devices, consoles, etc. Getting Minecraft on to your technology will cost about $19.99.

Getting Your Graduation Setting

After the game is downloaded to your technology, you can either create your own server or you might contact an administrator of another server to actually hold your graduation. If several of your kids are already participating in a particular server, you might want to consider this option. Once you are all ready, you might want to enlist the help of your kids to create your virtual graduation arena.

How to Make a Virtual Reality Graduation Ceremony Work

Just like the on-campus graduation ceremonies, there is a lot of work involved in a virtual graduation ready. While it might seem like a simple solution, it's anything but. It will take some very important preparation to make everything go smoothly.

Creating an Invitation

Virtual graduation ceremonies need students. Everyone that is planning to attend, including parents, students, teachers, etc., will need to create an avatar. Therefore, you'll want to send out a timeline with deadlines for creating their characters, doing a practice run and the ceremony itself. You'll also need to discuss appropriate virtual attire (if this is an option), any software requirements, technology requirements, server the ceremony will be on, information for guests, like parents, and the agenda.

Allow a Practice Run

Given that technology never works exactly how you think it will, it can be important to do a practice run in your virtual environment. You'll want to try to do this a few days before the actual event. You won't need all your speakers present but you'll want to make sure that you have most of your faculty and students to ensure that you won't have any bandwidth issues or technology troubles.

How to Hold a Zoom Graduation Ceremony

Zoom is a meeting and video conference software that is used to hold webinars for large crowds. Many colleges and universities are already using Zoom software to live stream their graduations. When it isn't possible for students to attend an on-campus graduation, you might choose to have a Zoom webinar graduation. This will allow you to have 100 interactive attendees and up to 10,000 view-only attendees.

Online Tools

In order to create or be part of a Zoom webinar, you'll need to download Zoom software on your technology. All the attendees will also need to have access to Zoom on their phones, tablets, computers, etc.

Setting It Up

Zoom is a video software application, so to get the right feel, the host will need to create the graduation background by decorating their space. If they still have access to the school, they might want to set up a camera where they would typically hold a graduation ceremony. Zoom also offers access to virtual backgrounds that you and your interactive attendees can utilize.

Invitation Creation

Since all your attendees just need to have access to Zoom, setting up this type of virtual graduation can be a little less daunting. However, you'll still want to send out an invitation to graduates and attendees with the time and Zoom link to follow.

What Should Virtual and Online Graduates Wear?

You might also want to set up specific dress code guidelines for your interactive attendees. For example, if you want to go the traditional cap and gown route, provide students with a link to buy their cap and gowns online to be shipped to their house. This way they still get the "graduation" experience.

Tips for Customizing a Virtual Graduation

The fun thing about a virtual graduation is that it can be out of this world, literally. You can totally customize it so that it's an experience that your students will never forget. In addition to being open to graduation ideas from students, you might try these tricks.

Have Fun With Themes

You might have students create alien avatars or superheroes. The graduation area can then be customized to your graduation theme. This will be fun and memorable for students and make online pictures or parties afterward an out of this world experience.

Invite a Special Guest Speaker

Get a truly special guest to speak at the commencement. Given your situation, you might be able to reach out to a famous person or local celebrity to speak to your students.

Break Up Your Ceremonies

Break the class up into several ceremonies to ensure that everyone gets a chance to say their graduation speech or grab that virtual diploma or awards. Servers can usually only handle so many people at once so breaking large classes up can work to your advantage.

Use the Mail to Your Advantage

While you can always have students pick up their real diplomas and awards at the building, if possible, you might also use the mail to your advantage. For students that are out of state or can't make it to the facility, you might ship them their awards and diplomas. To give it an added pizzazz, you might consider wrapping it nicely or creating a special box. This can make it more special for students that couldn't attend the actual ceremony.

Going Virtual

Having a graduation ceremony is a right of passage for many high school and college students. However, sometimes things happen to make this impossible. Thankfully, the internet offers you a solution through a virtual graduation ceremony. Now it's time to get planning!

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How to Hold a Virtual Graduation Ceremony