How Metaverse Will Transform Online Education
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how Starlink will transform education, and we discussed the role of the internet in education and how making access to the internet easier can bring digital equity and boost the growth of online lessons.
Starlink will bring open access to the internet, while the Metaverse will change how we use it. But how exactly will it work?
What is the Metaverse?
In a nutshell? “Virtual augmented reality”.
It’s essentially Web 3.0, and it offers immersive digital experiences which will allow you to do anything in a totally digital space.
Okay… have you ever played The Sims? Well, it’s like that, except you are controlling yourself and not playing God. You can live a regular digital life, playing online games and shopping, or you can create virtual spaces like offices and clubs to attend with your fellow Meta avatars.
You can attend concerts, attend multi-player games, and (this brings me to my point) attend schools and universities!
This is a watered-down explanation of exactly what the Metaverse is capable of… if you want to learn more about it, leave a comment down below and I’ll get right on that!
How Metaverse Will Transform Online Education
Aside from the fact that students will sit at home and attend virtual classes (which they are doing already), the Metaverse will allow for virtual field trips that would otherwise have cost an arm and a leg. Picture it! A trip to the Hadron Collider for science class! Going to the Arctic for a field trip!
But the opportunities aren’t limited to visiting new places. You can virtually test out theories and ideas that would otherwise be dangerous to test out in real life.
Case in point, the Trolley Problem.
The problem with sitting and debating in a classroom is that there is no practical approach to solving a problem. Now, it may be an aggressive approach, but The Good Place combats this by simulating an actual Trolley Problem so the people are confronted with having to make a choice in real-time.
No time to think or debate ethics and morality — it puts you in the situation without harming anyone in the process.
I highly recommend watching this 3-minute clip from the show! SPOILER WARNING though!
It’s a more drastic take on the exercise of simulating reality for education, but you get the point. It’s also a fabulous show and I would make any excuse to integrate it everywhere.
But to take a different example, a teacher could be teaching a class on how cars work, and actually show them how it was built in the factory, how fast it goes on the racetrack, and what temperatures the tires can withstand. It takes theory and gives it meaning and experience, which is what our classrooms severely lack!
Virtual reality classrooms
If that sounds crazy, just know that it’s already happening.
UK’s Bradfield College has a tech department that used its time during the pandemic to develop its own VR-based teaching and learning scenarios for different subjects, including history, science, and geography. It allowed students to experience elements of these subjects in detail, and needless to say, the kids were hooked!
Feedback from students
The technology in Bradfield is still taking its baby steps, so I’m not going to consider the feedback from the students here too much. Instead, I’m going to look at a place that has already mastered the technology and is seeing results: China.
Classrooms in China have shown that the use of virtual reality for providing practical context to theory lessons has dramatically improved tests results! It seems students who used to get nothing but C grades, using VR learning immersion, started to outperform the A grade students!
In fields like engineering and math, this tool comes especially in handy!
Evolving education with the times
A key problem with school education is that they hardly ever evolve. Case in point: my brother is nearly 10 years younger than me, and he has the same textbooks I had in school. It’s crazy to think that a decade has passed and they have made no updates to the curriculum.
And that’s where we see the benefits of the Metaverse to education and learning. It will enable up-to-date, expert analysis to be embedded across this virtual world which would apply to the real world too.
You could look up at the night sky and have actual Neil deGrasse Tyson explain the constellations and the observable universe to you! Your knowledge wouldn’t be limited to classrooms and textbooks… it would come from the world around you!
We would also (hopefully!) do away with written exams. 2020 has taught us that written exams are of little use when testing children for the understanding of a concept. So now, in a controlled and 100% safe environment, children can pull apart cars and put them back together. They can test out different chemical reactions in a lab without worrying about their safety.
Or, you know… they could simulate household tasks that would help us build our skills for the future: changing lightbulbs, unblocking drains, fixing plumbing issues, etc.
You could Gamify learning!
All this new tech rots the brains of children!
Um… first of all, no.
Second: If your child wants to use VR headsets and play games in the metaverse, nothing will stop them. At least this way, you can manage how your child uses the platform without outright banning it.
Children today are already engaging with online forums and building lives in the virtual space. Games like Minecraft have attracted over 140 million players because of how it encourages collaborations among total strangers!
The virtual, collaborative, task-based nature of the Web 3.0 will encourage students to learn because now it’s a game to be won rather than a task. There is a reward at the end of it, which isn’t the case with standard education.
Some might argue the grades and a teacher’s appreciation are reward enough. And I’m here to tell you: it’s not. It builds pressure for the next exam and provides NO relief to students.
Games have low stakes, so winning or losing at them doesn’t impact self-esteem or cause depression and anxiety in students. Testing, grading, and continued pressure from teachers and parents, on the other hand, do create an unnecessary amount of anxiety because of all the expectations placed on the child’s shoulders.
Okay… this isn’t about parenting or teaching advice. The point is… students thrive when there is less pressure to study and they are allowed to enjoy education.
Gamification of learning is the future of education. This is what makes the metaverse a natural fit for the classroom.
The Next Stage
The internet opened up the entirety of human knowledge at the click of a button, but the Metaverse will open up new experiences. This could be a fantastic learning opportunity for students but… we need to embrace it, not be afraid of it!
We have been doing virtual classes since 2020, and look at how quickly we made the switch and adapted to online schools! If we can do that, we can become early adopters of the metaverse too.
It all comes down to how prepared we are to accept and embrace change.
If you’re thinking of creating a course and need some guidance on structuring and scriptwriting, you can contact me through my website! I also offer additional services like branding, animation, voice-over, and promotional content creation.