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What Does the Future of Metaverse and Education Look Like?

Contents

  1. What is metaverse?
  2. How does the metaverse have a place in education?
  3. What are the advantages of VR and AR learning experiences?
  4. What are the disadvantages of VR and AR learning experiences?

 

Since Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new corporate name as Meta in October, the internet has gone abuzz with how the so-called metaverse is going to change the world of technology as we know it. Read on to discover how the metaverse is set to revolutionise the educational system and what it means for your children.girl trying virtual reality at desk

What is metaverse?

 

If your child has asked (maybe begged?) you for a virtual reality (VR) headset in the past few years, you may already be aware of how VR is pushing its way onto the forefront of our radars. But the metaverse is more than that…

Used by tech companies to describe what comes after the internet, the metaverse is a sophisticated union of VR, augmented reality (AR) and video where users “exist” in a digital space. Already piquing the interests of Facebook and Microsoft, it’s only a matter of time before the metaverse is ushered into leading companies the world over. 

The term “metaverse” was originally coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction book, Snow Crash, where people use digital avatars of themselves to navigate an online world. 

Now a hot topic among the technology hungry, advocates of the metaverse imagine users working, playing, and staying connected to friends and colleagues via concerts, meetings, international (and virtual, of course) trips and, more importantly, classes. 

 

How does the metaverse have a place in education?

 

We’ve already had a small taste of how education’s form is changing thanks to Covid-19 and what seems like a lifetime of online classes. So, it comes as no surprise that online learning and the metaverse are being discussed in the same conversations. 

Immersive learning experiences are certainly seen as the new way forward. In a video released alongside Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta announcement, a young child and mother can be seen studying a digitally-rendered solar system while Marne Levine, Meta’s Chief Business Officer, narrates: “What if you could learn about anything in the world just by bringing it closer to you? If you were taking astrophysics, you could study in the metaverse.” 

And as a student’s avatar is transported to a virtual Ancient Rome, Levine says: “In the metaverse, you’ll be able to teleport not just to any place, but any time as well. Ancient Rome: imagine standing on the streets, hearing the sounds, visiting the markets to get a sense of the rhythm of life over 2000 years ago.”

In the same video, the company also announced that its Facebook Reality Labs will invest $150 million in VR learning experiences. The funds will be used to assist with tech development and to educate and train people to use VR and AR tools. 

 

What are the advantages of VR and AR learning experiences?

 

While no one knows exactly what the metaverse is going to look like or how it’s going to impact children, it’s possible that the educational lives of students could be transformed by hopping into a different world and exploring the wonders of the universe. So, what are the advantages of VR and AR learning experiences?

  • High levels of engagement 

If there was ever a way to heighten the interest of children in a bid to engage them in their studies, the metaverse has potentially nailed it. The idea of book-based lessons seems like a far-flung reverie when the possibility of digitally walking with hologram dinosaurs is on the horizon. 

  • Distance learning revolutionised 

If 2020 and 2021 (and probably 2022) have taught us anything, it’s that we can do far more at home than we thought. Work from home? Yes. Zoom call? Sure. Online classes? Most definitely. While it was thought that this new era of digital learning came at a cost – no teacher-student interaction, boredom and a lack of classroom environment – if educational methods were overhauled metaverse-style, those issues would be addressed in a snap.  

 

What are the disadvantages of VR and AR learning experiences?

 

In an ideal world, the metaverse would be internationally adopted by school curriculums and students would gallop forwards into the miraculous imaginings of VR and AR. But will it be that easy?

  • Too expensive 

The highly-innovative space will not come for free, and after disappointing sales seen from VR headsets due to their expensive price, it does beg the question – will these new learning experiences be feasible for schools? And if only some schools can afford this way of educating, is that fair on the schools that stick to existing tools and materials? Probably not. 

  • Isolating and addictive

Although AR and VR worlds bring with them myriad opportunities for interaction, the interaction and environment are exactly that – virtual. And once the headsets are off, normal reality hits and it could be substantially less interactive and stimulating than being in the metaverse. In turn, this could lead to addictive habits that are hard to break, especially if the use of these alternative realities is prolonged. 

So while we ponder the pros and cons of this ground-breaking turn in technology, we can only get ready for what is, as Zuckerberg says, “the next chapter for the internet.”

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