Tuesday, March 21st, 2023 12:54:24

What would education look like in a metaverse world?

By Sarat C. Das
Updated: January 31, 2023 1:29 pm

The metaverse, a 3D digital space amalgamated with the real world and the virtual world, has been announced as a trend of future education with unbound potential. However, as an emerging new-age experience, seldom did the prevailing discourses outline the metaverse from the perspective of education. Then, the metaverse in education is perspicuously expounded. In addition, multiple potential applications of the metaverse in education are built around blended learning, language learning, competence-based education, and inclusive education.

Much before COVID-19, though the pandemic can be considered the watershed moment, the learning had already begun to shift from physical classrooms to breathtakingly virtual and blended spaces.

‘’The metaverse miraculously transforms campus life into a virtual world, where learners adorning VR headsets set foot in the virtual campus or university to learn, explore, and socialize,’’ says Varinder Bajarh, founder CEO of eStudentbook.com, an education market place which is reshaping most of its interactivity features gearing towards Web 3 technologies. ‘’In this digital space, for example, learners can dig into varied learning pods, spend time in libraries and breakout rooms, come face to face with coaches and counselors, and hang out with peers. These digital experiences can indeed democratize education, the ultimate socratisation of classroom teaching, by bringing learners from geographically diverse locations and varied economic backgrounds together to learn, in a cost-effective, flexible, and accelerated duration.’’

In September 2023, the planned Kenya-KAIST virtual campus located 60 kilometers from Nairobi will enable the public university to extend its outreach beyond its borders, allowing learners to study together on cutting-edge subjects from their respective locations.

With the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world in 2020, humanity was forced to inhabit a society pivoting from face-to-face learning. ‘’In particular, a raft of activities in the physical world has transited into the virtual world, or even the latter creating a range of new experiences not possible in physical world,’’ points out Navin Manaswi, founder of WowExp, one of the India’s frontrunning metaverse companies.

‘’Let us say, riding a gravity defying automobile to attend a classroom in the sky. Thus, the human need to transcend the boundaries of the physical world that has been accelerated, triggering the yearning for a more advanced virtual world.’’

Owing to the breakthrough of VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain, etc., the metaverse, a 3D digital space with collapsed virtual and real boundaries, has provoked increasing attention. It has been designated as the next generation of the Internet, which is about to histrionically transform how we interact with the world.

2021 was known as the inaugural year of the metaverse. As global metaverse research is proliferating, the metaverse has been dubbed as a future education trend, with unbound potential. The growth of the metaverse usually combines with multiple new technologies, some of them still licking into a shape.

‘’The education is a new variant — the focus on the metaverse-related technologies is the new indulgence,’’ affirms Abhishek Nakhate, founder of Zoom Abroad, a UK-based EdTech company recently announced the launch of its 2 plus 1 programme in India.

‘’A few education institutions and technology organizations are moving towards eradicating physical barriers while making them more immersive, engaging, and communicative. The transformation, from virtual cloud-based classrooms and webinars to self-paced learning environments to microlearning, and now with the assistance of AR and VR offering immersive learning experiences.’’

Apprehending a concept is much simpler if explained in an interactive manner in a virtual environment. For instance, understanding a basic concept of the solar ecosystem will be much simpler if one can virtually walk through the galaxy and experience the placements and orbits of the planets.

Another example is – it is easier to comprehend the process of launching a rocket by virtually experiencing it from the space launch station. Understanding step-by-step launch into orbit can be represented visually by virtually being present there with the assistance of virtual 3D classroom setup. Every minute detail can be experienced along with the pre-launch preps, final assembling, technical aspects, and much more than meets the eye.

The professions that call upon to practice to master the skill, such as piloting an aircraft, medical surgeries and astrophysics experiments, can be effortlessly be conducted when education is hosted on the metaverse.

Transform learning with gamification

‘’Succinctly put, the metaverse will fail to come to its optimal manifestation without the user-generated content (UGC) propels it in that direction,’’ Chander Sharma, COO of eStudentbook.com.  ‘’The potential to empower creativity and partake in the modelling and construction of reality is eventually the pledge of an interconnected digital universe — the future evolutionary leap of the gaming fraternity.’’

Varinder Bajarh, founder ceo of eStudentbook.com asserts: ‘’A competitive kindred-spirit enables the learners not missing a trick with eyes peeled, or so called fast on the draw. Metaverse for education can augment focused study. Investituring the learners with badges and other forms of acknowledgement and endorsement help the learners remain in high spirits, goading them to stay focused to complete the assigned tasks.’’

For instance, learners can explore varied geographical locations in the metaverse to comprehend the features and environment of the locations. The learners can then create the avatars modelled on the culture of a particular geographical location they chose.

Interactive Learning on a New Level

With an abundance of opportunities to experiment, it creates new vistas for the teaching community. Any technology that can expedite learning outcomes is the cornerstone of tutors.

Navin Manaswi, founder of WowExp reveals: ‘’Social interaction in real-life situations enables collaborative work environments and enhances problem-solving skills. Creating avatars can effortlessly elucidate the concept employing a roleplaying technique to enter into real-life scenarios. Creating discrete scenarios for realistic situations can be more effortlessly done with the metaverse.’’

Stumbling upon information effortlessly

Knowledge can be seamlessly made accessible to learners across geographies mediated by new technologies. Courses, once given a definite shape, can be accessed by multiple learners, such a task will save time and resources. Personalized search results and improved socially collaborative tools will offer individualized learning paths in a manner not possible before.

How Metaverse shaping edtech applications?

The applications of the metaverse in education are diverse and know no bound. The transformation of the education domain from eLearning to metaverse is all primed to take a big leap, from virtual classroom to learning scenarios.

eLearning facilitates education anytime and anywhere. However, advantages and endowments of physical classrooms cannot be replaced or replicated in the current form of digital learning. An effective substitute can be a virtual 3D classroom, so called the metaverse, that can fill this gap between physical and virtual classrooms. The learners obtain the option of creating their own virtual avatars and can attend classes with other learners in this immersive setting. Such an experience truly opens up multiple vistas for experiential learning, not possible before.

Similar to marking your presence in the classes with other learners, the latter can also participate in endless events and activities. It offers the experience of physically being present on campus.

‘’With metaverse, comprehending the concepts of multiple disciplines can be comprehended in a better manner by amalgamating, collating or exchanging the concepts,’’ says Rahul Shrivastava, founder and director of Grasps Solutions.

‘’Inviting A-list personalities like artists, public intellectuals, sportspersons and making the students interact and learn from their repertoire of experiences and knowledge can prove to be highly motivating. Conducive environ for virtual seminars, symposiums, tutorials, bootcamps, workshops and lecture series can be organized in the metaverse.’’

There is no denying of the fact that the metaverse is a third world that renders experiences of the real world, even much more. Yet there are some perceptible differences when compared to conventional face-to-face classroom settings and remote learning.

Dhananjay Mishra, CFO of eStudentbook.com, says, ‘’Metaverse offers sheer flexibility of learning from anywhere, anytime, with a smart wearable device harnessed to high internet connectivity. This allows tutors to innovate new pedagogy in both synchronous and asynchronous learning mode.’’

The metaverse allows the learner to create your identities in the form of avatars in a cheerful, creative, and immersive manner. In the conventional classroom situation, the learners interact with tutors and peers in person. This cannot be replicated in screen-based learning due to its technology limitation. Metaverse turns this on its head, makes it almost like a real-life experience. The learners’ avatars can interact with tutors and peer avatars, obtaining and offering real-time feedback, socialization, specialist and personalized support in concept learning, and much more.

‘’The conventional learning setup enables creating an environment with limitations for practical learning, like labs, roleplays, etc. Screen-based learning is a flat-screen copy of a physical classroom as it primarily helps theoretical learning modules,’’ says Abhishek Nakhate, founder of Zoom Abroad.

Metaverse, on the other hand, can build a series of realistic scenarios, allowing the learners to participate in real-life situations and learn in a highly intense and safe environment.

Conventional and screen-based learning generally exist in static environments in the form of textbooks, pictures, videos, and other similar learning materials.

Metaverse enables learners with real learning scenarios providing them required resources to create and learn through participation in activities.

In conventional and screen-based learning, assessments can be done mostly in a summative manner in the form of tests and scores. Providing impactful real-time feedback becomes a challenge in these methods.

‘’Metaverse in the education sector helps both in formative and summative assessments with the help of learning analysis, where comprehensive assessment along with immediate feedback assists in better learner growth,’’ says Navin Manaswi, founder of WowExp.

There is a score of metaverse companies such WowExp, currently the company is creating a series of verticals specializing anything from long-duration program to microcredentials in decentralized platforms to provide enhanced interoperability. With our expertise in a robust tech stack of the latest technologies, WowExp is rolling out learning experiences that are unparalleled and so impactful. The higher education institutions will now partner with technology universities, science laboratories and startups to enhance real-world skills in Virtual and Hybrid environments. This transformation will hold sway over the new age of learning.

The metaverse provides experiential, embodied skilling opportunities using real-world scenarios and high-pressure situations, where the learner can make mistakes without consequence. When well designed, it combines VR with data science and spatial design to ameliorate learner engagement, or the entire learner management ecosystem per se. Among a raft of benefits of training in the metaverse include:

  • Experiential learning. Pharmaceutical leader Novartis trains life-saving lab skills with high-fidelity, multiplayer VR simulation. Students step into a virtual lab to interact with instructors and practice welding tubes, removing bag caps, and labeling bags with unlimited do-overs.
  • Deliberate practice. The metaverse provides intense practice and feedback loops, where learners practice many variations of a concept to hone skills. Walmart’s Spark City game is different every time the game is played. If customers appear within 10 feet, players have to ask if they can help, but not before they’ve addressed spills and other safety hazards.
  • State-dependent learning. Providence Health triggers psychological stress of responding to microaggressions in the workplace. A live actor captured in 3D volumetric video appears through the camera lens of your phone or tablet as a hologram standing in the room in front of you, for learning and retrieval taking place under the same conditions.

Undoubtedly metaverse embodies varied worlds through visualization and storytelling. Both upheld as two hallmarks of a metaverse learning experience and much needed today after the profusion of boring Video conferencing experiences during COVID-19. Through VR technology, learners can enter an entirely different world or into another individual’s space, or a common space they agree upon. Today, health care leader DaVita builds patient empathy by using an interactive, multi-sensory first-person story.

Stepping into metaworlds facilitates visualization of scenarios, including complex development challenges. For example, a learner can use a VR headset to examine a street transformation in South Asia or explore life in a green Smart City. Through bite-sized 360 degree stories, virtual tours, and visualizations, learners “enter” crucial global development challenges, including climate change, education, gender, urban development, international trade, and public health.

Training staff for soft skills, such as communication, leadership, listening, and empathy is hard to achieve and also measure. The metaverse facilitates this by immersing learners in real-world conflicts and allows them to practice their soft skills in a safe environment, for example, having sensitive or difficult conversations with employees or customers.

For Verizon staff, safety training scenarios concerning robberies can create a sense of danger and overwhelm. By using VR, Verizon helped over 22,000 associates across 1,600 stores train for this complex scenario; the company reported that 97 percent of those trained said they felt prepared when put in such dangerous situations.

The metaverse holds promise to improve educational and social access for people with disabilities. For example, an immersive environment offers young adults with special needs, autism, and social interaction issues the ability to improve their interpersonal and job skills, such as visiting a mall or grocery, shelving products at a store, or loading goods in a truck. Through VR apps, they can practice skills and interact with others in a safe environment without feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

VR can also help those with mobility or anxiety issues to improve their quality of life. For instance, the Starlight charity uses VR technology to give pediatric patients the chance to “escape” the walls of their hospital room and be transported into another world. Through VR goggles, they experience playing soccer, hanging out with friends, or visiting faraway places.

‘’Using the metaverse to create immersive learning experiences allows organizations to collect hitherto untapped data to gain insights into learner behavior to track progress, identify gaps, and continuously improve the learning experience. Useful data on learner actions includes usage, performance, attention and engagement, sentiment, and predictive analysis,’’ affirms Rahul Shrivastava, founder and director of Grasps Solutions. ‘’Teachers can also play a more active role in collecting data and analyzing lessons on the effectiveness of such environments for learning. For instance, hand movements are tracked in Pfizer, Novartis and Bristol Myers Squibb’s pharma sims. If users cross their hands or angle them the wrong way under the biosafety cabinet, the sim immediately provides feedback and starts over. Every digital footprint can be measured and a dashboard of telemetry data can provide actionable insights to improve the simulation experience.’’

The metaverse literally means “life” after the internet. Early applications of this new way of learning include virtual campus activities, 3D simulations, and gamified activities. This is only the start—through this technology there are boundless opportunities to reimagine and democratize education in novel ways.


By Sarat C. Das

Comments are closed here.