How Can Metaverse Be Explored For Higher Education
The metaverse may refer to an integrated network of 3D virtual worlds; these worlds can be accessed through a virtual reality headset where users navigate the metaverse using their eye moments or voice commands
Imagine a virtual classroom where students and the teacher are present with the help of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, although miles apart. The teacher takes the students on a virtual tour to a museum where he tells them about different species of dinosaurs in a 3D space. The students go around the dinosaur models, ask questions and know more about them with the help of their instructor whom they can see in the form of a 3D avatar. That is what the future of education will look like in the metaverse.
What is metaverse and its role in education
The metaverse may refer to an integrated network of 3D virtual worlds. These worlds can be accessed through a virtual reality headset where users navigate the metaverse using their eye moments or voice commands. It can also be accessed through augmented reality (AR) headsets, phones, consoles and linked gadgets.
A virtual world in the form of metaverse holds a lot of potential to provide a platform for students, faculty and staff to interact in an environment that can be entirely flexible to accommodate different needs. In a time when modern educational system is under fire for being disconnected from the real world, metaverse can help create virtual worlds that might help instructors connect with students irrespective of geographical boundaries. The metaverse allows educators to create a more immersive style of learning.
Ways to be explored for higher education in metaverse
The metaverse holds immense potential for higher education. For example, virtual college tours are making more colleges accessible to students. Such visits are more accessible for low-income and minority students, who may not have time or budget to travel for a tour. During the pandemic, the traditional college trip turned into an online experience. These virtual tours are now migrating to metaverse, offering students opportunity to experience a virtual form of college or campus life.
Some universities and colleges are already exploring ways to develop metaverse enabled learning experiences. The University of Miami, in the US, offers immersive learning experiences in healthcare, architecture, behavioral research, climate change etc. Under the XR initiative of the university, medical students can learn how to deliver anesthesia in a simulated operating room.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, when physical schools and colleges were shut, higher education institutes used new technologies to expand access and boost their reach. Many education institutes explored the possibility of metaverse and associated extended-reality (XR) approaches. The new-found roles of teachers and technologies amidst the pandemic has already shown how metaverse can be explored for higher education. It promises to revolutionise education through new technologies that will co-exist on a single platform in a 5G setting.
Emergence of metaverse and the future
The term 'metaverse' first appeared in a 1992 novel 'Snow Crash' by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. Since then, the concept has been explored in video games and movies such as 'Avatar'. Apart from that, ever since Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook to Meta in October 2021, metaverse became a buzzword.
Metaverse is accelerating the unbundling of higher education and it will reshape how we think about distance learning. Called the future of internet by many, metaverse promises to be much more. A white paper produced for Meta in May estimated the metaverse economy could be worth more than USD 3 trillion globally in a decade.
Technology is likely to solve a lot of problems, but there are certain challenges that come along. For instance, interoperability is one of the major challenges in the metaverse ecosystem. One of the key factors in its adoption will be to ensure that the digital assets that have been created in one metaverse can be used in another. Despite these challenges, metaverse has a huge potential to influence several sectors, including education. The next few years will decide how and what value does virtual reality world learning brings and blends with the existing education models.
With significant implications for education, metaverse will make the higher education experience more immersive. Also, business and industry will soon be looking for an educated workforce that is ready to meet the challenges these new virtual environments present.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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