Over the past two decades, digital technologies have revolutionized the educational system. iPads and other tablets are now widely used. Touch screens and interactive features have been incorporated into exhibits in museums and galleries all around the world. Smartphones now have access to language learning thanks to apps like Duolingo. It’s a measure of how rapidly we’ve all assimilated new technologies into our lives that these things have become commonplace.
But 2D technologies have their limitations. Although remote learning technologies kept the educational system running during the epidemic, any parent of a teen child will attest to the fact that it was frequently a frustrating experience. It was challenging to keep them interested in a flat screen for extended periods of time. They lacked the essential quality of presence that comes from interacting in a classroom setting with their peers and teachers.
The metaverse is the next step in the development of the internet, and its sense of presence is what makes it unique. It encompasses a variety of technological advancements, such as virtual reality (VR) headsets that take you to entirely new settings, augmented reality (AR) glasses that, in the future, will project computer-generated images onto the real world, and mixed reality (MR) experiences that combine the real world and the virtual world.
Presence is important. The majority of us learn socially, from and with other people, and through one another’s experiences. Both engaging in conversation and exchanging ideas are important. According to academic studies, virtual reality (VR) can enhance students’ motivation, engagement, comprehension, and retention of knowledge. We all seem to comprehend that intuitively, in my opinion. Doing something versus being taught something is so much easier to recall.
The potential for learning in the metaverse is thus extremely intriguing. Students can really wander among the dinosaurs rather than being told what they were like. It is possible to construct and stock entire science laboratories with resources that most schools could never afford. Complex surgery can be performed by medical students without endangering their patients or themselves.
This is actually taking place; it is not science fiction nor wishful thinking. More than 6,000 students use Meta Quest 2 headsets to learn in VR at Japan’s N and S high schools, the largest online high schools in the nation. According to their teachers, this improves the educational experience and makes it possible for kids to develop social skills even when they are geographically separated.
A school that has created a digital replica of the Globe Theatre, the circular Elizabethan theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were performed and is putting on its end-of-term show on its famous stage, entirely virtually, is one example that came up at a roundtable event I moderated with educators, academics, and others in London last week. Young people will be able to collaborate and discover how Shakespeare’s plays were written for this particular place even though they won’t be in the same physical location as their classmates or be traveling to London.
It’s not difficult to picture the advantages of being unrestricted by space and time. Colleges in underprivileged areas will be able to work together and receive assistance from people overseas. A great teacher might work in a remote, underfunded school 100 miles distant. A school system in need of instructors in a specific subject may hire them from anywhere in the nation to instruct classes.
Additionally, it provides ambitious students with the chance to learn from individuals they would not typically have access to. A professor from Seoul may conduct a session that a college student from Ohio could attend. Even the most isolated Alaskan students could take field trips to NASA, the Louvre in Paris, or the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Without leaving either party’s home, a personal tutor could conduct a session with a pupil in a whole different city.
The University of Maryland Global Campus showed that some students’ apprehension of speaking to professors and connecting with peers was minimized when they were avatars when they met with tutors and classmates in virtual reality.
Governments will ultimately be responsible for ensuring that the technologies are effectively incorporated into public education systems once they are available. The best practices will be provided for others to emulate by forward-thinking education administrators who creatively use this technology in their schools and institutions. The best teachers are those who have the skills to motivate their students. Because of this, comprehensive teacher training is a crucial part of any government policy because, without teachers who understand how to make the most of these tools, nothing will succeed.
Governments may begin laying the basis by creating curricula, instituting digital literacy programs, and encouraging and bringing together educators to assist direct this technology for the greatest impact. Importantly, it will be up to governments to guarantee that all schools have access to these technologies, in order to prevent inequality from growing because some schools with higher resources can afford hardware while others cannot.
Technologies based on the metaverse have the potential to change education. Although it is already taking place, educators and policymakers will need to seize the opportunities these technologies offer in order to fully realize the promise in the coming years.