After a few lessons teaching the solar system, it was time for an experiential activity. The students put on VR glasses and gloves with the help of their teachers and made some adjustments. The blank monitors on the side of the classroom turned on, and the rest of the class saw what the three students saw through the VR glasses: Saturn floated in front of them, slowly spinning.
The class got excited and started urging them to try touching Saturn. Through the gloves, the three students felt the vibrations of rocks in Saturn hitting their fingers. A student flies towards the ring. On the monitor, the class saw a rock the size of a house magnified by their classmates.
Welcome to the world of education in the Metaverse.
First of all, what is the Metaverse?
Here are the three main characteristics of the Metaverse that this article considers:
1. The Metaverse is where physical and digital overlap in many areas, including social, business, shopping, entertainment, and education. For education, this is the main attraction of the Metaverse: the idea of ”merging” the real world with immersion.
2. The Metaverse will be made up of different “universes” that are interconnected , and people’s interactions, no matter where they are in the Metaverse, will be carried over and applied to all other universes (a scenario in the education Metaverse might be in science buy a shirt from the NASA store in science universe and you will still wear it when you visit art universe later).
3. But on a larger scale, the ultimate goal of the Metaverse is that these Metaverses will also be connected to each other (so when you visit the gaming Metaverse gaming universe, the shirts you buy and wear in the education Metaverse education universe will still be there on you).
An important fact to note : Currently, each so-called Metaverse is separate, as developers flesh out their own Metaverse first.
As mentioned earlier, the education Metaverse is basically a digital world in which all users interact with education-related content. In a hypothetical educational Metaverse, there might be a “land” dedicated to the human body in the biology universe. Another plot might be about the history of Athens as part of the history universe, and another plot might be about how internal combustion engines work as part of the engineering universe. Additionally, because the Metaverse can be accessed from anywhere, it also opens up new opportunities for experts and educators to add their expertise and insight to the design and content of these universes.
Since the Metaverse is designed to simulate real life in many ways, educational subjects should be allowed to overlap and influence each other in similar ways. This form of immersion opens doors for teachers to help their students see the connections between disciplines that are often included in their own curriculum. Subjects such as Maths and Science or Languages and Geography can be discussed more fully through a more engaging experience.
Redesigning learning spaces with AR/VR/MR
A classroom is no longer just a room. Now, students and teachers can transcend their walls and enter a curated learning experience. Using virtual reality (VR) equipment, students can explore fully immersive lessons about different historical eras or the inner workings of car engines. By using Augmented Reality (AR), glasses or their smartphones during field trips, students can move around and “see” what the area used to be like, as well as information about everyday life and historical events. But students are now able to physically interact with virtual historic buildings and pick up digital artifacts if they use mixed reality (MR) technology on the same field trip.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can further enhance the quality of student experience as teachers gain access to international experts through the Metaverse. The technology could be embodied in a digital avatar, allowing students to ask common questions, allowing teachers to focus on more nuanced issues.
The more AI interacts with students, the more it can adapt to different learning styles and needs. Ultimately, these AI-powered avatars may serve as instructional guides or educational experiences, creating a more immersive experience for students.
More opportunities for personalized learning
For those students who prefer a discovery-based learning experience, the world of virtual reality or augmented reality has more benefits. They are able to learn and experiment at their own pace in a safe environment, still under the supervision and guidance of teachers, guest virtual experts or AI avatars.
To demonstrate what they have learned, students can potentially use the same techniques of the Metaverse, create their own universes, and work together to show not only what they have learned to the teacher, but others visiting this part of the educational Metaverse. Classrooms showcase what they have learned.
Gamification to keep learning fun and engaging
It may not be considered a technology in the strictest sense, but the adoption of gamification in the educational Metaverse is a very attractive way to get students interested and engaged in learning. During an augmented reality MR field trip, students can collect virtual coins by correctly answering questions about what they just learned. At the end of the course, if they get a high score on the test, they have a chance to win a special rare item for their avatar.
The education Metaverse that is landing
There is a lot of potential and opportunity in the future of creating an educational Metaverse, but not a lot right now. Much of the current focus is on the “make money by playing” Metaverse, where users play games to earn currency or items in the Metaverse.
However, this has started to change and users will soon have the opportunity to “learn to make money”. Here are some educational Metaverses that already exist or are coming soon:
Popular game Roblox announced a $10 million fund in November 2021 to encourage creators to build online learning experiences in the Roblox world, where users can create their own games and worlds and play in games designed by others play.
In the spatial Metaverse, an Australian teacher creates an educational Metaverse for high school students. There are currently 14 worlds, including the “Nautius” world where students can explore the Great Barrier Reef from a virtual submersible and the “Da Vinci Troop Gallery” where students can see how Leonardo’s inventions actually move and work.
As part of Perception Codes’ upcoming Morpheus Metaverse, the Holo-MUSEUM educational Metaverse will be filled with experiences created by educational institutions such as museums. These exhibits will provide classrooms with a variety of content from different disciplines around the world (history, science, art, etc.). A peculiar aspect of this Metaverse is that the technology of “entering” is a step above the computer desktop in terms of immersion, but also lower than virtual reality VR in terms of equipment expense. Using just red and blue glasses, users can see the world as a virtual hologram projected from the screen.
The first iterations of the educational Metaverse are likely to be direct copies of our habits, simply because they are tried and true learning tools. It’s easier for educators and parents to transition into these spaces because they still resemble the environments they prefer. However, as educators and developers begin to learn more about the possibilities and limitations of the Metaverse, more innovative and creative teaching experiences will emerge. And then from then on, who knows what education will look like?