John King (VictoryXR)

John King is the Director of Higher Education at VictoryXR, a company whose mission is to bring higher education to the Metaverse.

Born in Rome, Georgia, King’s hometown may not be as glamorous as its European counterpart, but the Peach State’s rendition can still be described as the quintessential southern city.

“Rome has a vibrant economy, to the point that it didn’t fall into a recession in 2008,” King says.  

After high school, King became a Bulldog, enrolling at the University of Georgia to study business.

For many of his peers, graduating college and heading to Atlanta to find a stable career in Corporate America was appealing, but King’s ambitions stretched beyond the state of Georgia, and even the United States.

After college, he went to Taiwan, his goal being to learn the Chinese language of Mandarin.

To support this venture, King taught English.

“And then later on I went to graduate school in Hong Kong for three years,” he says.

In addition to earning his master’s degree in Hong Kong, King also taught university courses and started a shoe company.

But not even those accomplishments could sate the travel palette of King, who eventually moved to Beijing, China, where he worked in several different industries over the course of six years.

In total, King spent thirteen years in Asia, a stretch that afforded countless memories and life lessons that will forever be etched into his personal narrative.

“Each one of those stints occupies a different epoch of my life,” King says.

“In Taiwan, I was still young and more like a student. When I got to Hong Kong, it was a much more competitive business environment, and then in Beijing I was in the political and cultural capital of China, but it was also hyper-competitive.”

Of course, his tour de Asia was not without its blemishes, but King has no regrets over spending most of his twenties and thirties outside the United States.

“I certainly would not be the person I am today if all those experiences had not occurred,” he remarks.

Like many expats, King eventually sought to return to the United States, and while he had amassed an impressive resume overseas, American employers didn’t know what to make of King, a seasoned professional with experience in an array of disciplines, but a man whose work history was lacking the pedigree that companies are typically looking for.

“The biggest struggle reintegrating into the United States job market wasn’t with what I wanted to do, but rather how I was received in the American workforce,” King shares.

“Had I spent six years at the Microsoft headquarters in Shanghai and then worked for The Economist for five years in Beijing, that’s something hiring managers could relate to because they can put those companies into context.”

Instead, King’s atypical career path flummoxed decisionmakers, the majority of whom didn’t want to take a chance on him.

“Most of the time in business, an unknown is a risk, and most hiring managers are not willing to take that risk if they don’t see how the benefits could outweigh the risks,” King explains.

In that sense, King’s search for steady employment in the United States was challenging, but after applying and being passed over for numerous positions, King’s perseverance was rewarded when Coastal Carolina University hired him to be a program coordinator at their Center for Global Engagement.  

In this role, King managed all elements of the program and collaborated with the university’s Chinese partner institutions.

“I was utilizing a number of different skills: teaching at a university in Hong Kong, project management, plus international business and policy,” he says.

King thrived working at Coastal Carolina, but five months into his tenure the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the priorities of the university drastically shifted.

Fortunately, King wasn’t laid off when the pandemic struck, but he began to see how university learning was evolving.

By 2022, King had fielded and accepted an offer from VictoryXR to become their Higher Education Sales Director, where he would be tasked with selling virtual technology to universities across the country.

For context, this virtual technology would enable students to learn new skills and disciplines from the comforts of their home or dorm, but in a way that is more interactive than a Zoom call.

If the idea of students learning in their bedroom instead of a classroom seems strange, King says he has already heard pushback from universities who are skeptical about embracing this new technology, but the reluctance exhibited by university decisionmakers hasn’t surprised King.

Considering that purchasing virtual technology and headsets isn’t exactly a budget-friendly investment, King knows it’s going to take time for the true value of VictoryXR to be appreciated on a large scale.

At the same time, King believes that if universities want to be the vanguards of innovative learning, embracing virtual technology will allow their students to develop skills that will prepare them for the job markets of today, and tomorrow.

“Part of this means anticipating trends in the workforce and the needs of the economy writ large, but also providing a supportive environment that can teach people new skills,” King says.

“And what I’ve seen so far is that the catalyst for the universities who have adopted virtual technology has been the pandemic, because in the span of a month universities came to the conclusion that they had to re-formulate the modality of how they were going to deliver instruction.”

Even though he is a proponent of virtual technology, King does not push the idea that VictoryXR’s technology will ever fully replace students attending classes on college campuses, but he does see this recent innovation as a tool, and one that is here to stay.

“If you’re looking for a reason for why virtual technology will be successful, look no further than the proliferation of connectivity, as it relates to all facets of our daily lives,” King says.  

“The internet is present in a lot of what we do every day, and the fact that we have highspeed bandwidth, not just in big cities, but also in rural areas, shows that the country and the world is much more connected than it was in the past.”

This line of thinking, when combined with the way younger generations of kids experience the world, means that virtual technology will undoubtedly play a role in society’s future.

The question then becomes:

To what degree will virtual technology be present in the coming years, and will more universities welcome this inevitable influx of technology?

“Many universities hate to admit this, but a lot of students feel comfortable in a digital medium. They are familiar with taking classes online and using virtual technology software to gain new skills,” King says.  

Another incentive for universities to consider investing in virtual technology, and why some already have moved forward with VictoryXR’s software, is that doing so can help colleges differentiate themselves and attract students from competing schools who may have larger budgets and more prestige, but are less likely to be at the forefront of revolutionizing the way students learn.

“For the schools who don’t have billion-dollar endowments, they are always looking for solutions on how they can bring a better experience to the student body, and virtual technology can do that,” King says.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see which academic institutions integrate virtual technology into their learning curriculum.

For King and VictoryXR, they have an array of reasons to want to see virtual technology succeed, but King also mentions that part of his personal ethos includes being a global citizen, and consequently, he believes it is incumbent upon him to try to bring virtual technology to people around the world who otherwise may not have access to it.

“I would like to get to a point where schools outside of wealthy North American universities can use this technology,” King says.  

“If we can get this technology into countries and communities that traditionally could not afford higher education, then we will start having a larger impact on the world as a whole.” QS


Today’s post is sponsored by:

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