02 Aug Metaverse for eLearning
The Metaverse is set to transform the eLearning industry. Mystakidis (2022) describes the Metaverse as a, “post-reality universe, a perpetual and persistent multiuser environment merging physical reality with digital virtuality.”
The Metaverse is a platform for Extended Reality (XR), composing of three key technologies: AR (Augmented reality), VR (Virtual reality) and MR (Mixed reality), and may push the boundaries of ‘reality’ as we know it. The Metaverse may offer real potential for learning. Meta for immersive learning, are investing $150 million building an ‘AR/VR ecosystem’, focusing on Metaverse creators, immersive content, increasing access and responsible research. Will the Metaverse transcend the limitations of 2D web-based eLearning, transporting learners to a ’post-reality universe’ of unimaginable learning potential? Maybe!
Metaverse for eLearning
Communication, collaboration, connection and creativity; this is what many organisations hope to achieve with learning via the Metaverse. Many global organisations today, have teams all around the world, so it is becoming increasingly important for them to find ways of collaborating and working together online. Up until now, video-calling has been the most common means of interacting face-to-face across the oceans. However, communicating via video-calls lacks certain qualities such as direct eye contact, body language and gestures, as well as a shared space. International teams require a technology that enables them to collaborate, communicate and learn from each other in a shared virtual space. Microsoft is jumping onboard to address this need with Mesh for Microsoft Teams. With Holoportation technology, you can project a life-like version of yourself, or design an avatar. Furthermore, holoporation enables holographic visualisation and sharing, meaning that international teams can engage in shared hands-on learning activities. Imagine how this could enhance workplace training!
There is nothing quite like novel experiences that inspire curiosity to engage learners and draw them into a deep state of concentration, often referred to as The Metaverse for learning may do just that. The first step for learning to take place begins with capturing the learners’ attention. After that, the learners’ perception of the new content is fundamental. In the non-metaverse, a.k.a ‘the real world’, experiential learning enables the learner to perceive through all five senses as they develop new skills and knowledge through hands-on active learning activities. Experiential learning can also be achieved via the imagination, as we imagine how something looks, sounds, feels, smells or tastes. Through Virtual Reality, the Metaverse will engage the senses as the learner is immersed in hands-on and active, yet digital, learning experiences. This flings the door wide open in terms of the learning opportunities available. The Metaverse can bring almost any experience into your home, school or workplace in a simulation that may well feel real to your brain. Could the learning potential of the Metaverse be limitless?
So how can the eLearning industry embrace the transformative powers of Metaverse technologies to enhance learning? eLearning via the Metaverse has the ability to take standard compliance and training courses and transform them into immersive experiences enabling more active participation. Currently, learners are confined to interacting through a screen, and unfortunately, this sometimes leads to a relatively passive role as a learner, as well as screen fatigue. The Metaverse for eLearning will enable immersive simulations and gamified learning experiences. Learning through the Metaverse will allow for a more embodied learning experience, albeit as an avatar (or hologram)!
For instance, rather than reading about Health and Safety regulations on screen or watching a video of a scenario, through the Metaverse, learners will become part of that scenario. They are no longer simply spectators, but become active participants in the action. This could be highly beneficial for learners by creating a safe space to take risks and experience the consequences of decisions, as well as practising the application of skills, particularly more high-risk skills, in the relevant context. Consider a medical student practising the skills needed for heart surgery, or a pilot in training learning the skills for the safest way to land a plane. Management and leadership training may involve immersive training scenarios such as exploring the effects of different decisions or conflict-resolution strategies. Are you more likely to remember something you read about or something you experienced?
Challenges and risks of the Metaverse for learning
It’s important to keep in mind that learning through the Metaverse may come with some risks related to physical well-being, health and safety, psychology, morality, ethics and data privacy (Mystakidis, 2022). Safety may be more difficult to ensure in virtual worlds. Data hacks and identity theft could be a significant concern, as well as risks to psychological well-being. While the Metaverse has the potential to take learning to unprecedented realms of opportunity, we must remember that we are not really avatars or holograms, and so we should consider entering the Metaverse safely for all learners.
- Stylianos Mystakidis, Metaverse Encyclopedia 2022, 2(1), 486- 497;
- https://doi.org/10.3390/encyclopedia2010031 Retrieved May 3 https://www.mdpi.com/2673-8392/2/1/31/htm