Metaverse in Education: Have you played any online games like Caesar, Game of Thrones, Building Farms and trading its food grains, or taken a virtual tour of a city or a new housing project? If your answer is ‘Yes’ or you are aware that such online games or virtual tours exist, then you have already tasted ‘Metaverse’. Further, if you or your child has tried using a VR headset to play games or taken a virtual tour of a museum using AR technology, then you have already experienced the ‘Metaverse’ at a small scale.
Have you seen the Hollywood movie ‘Avatar’ or SRK’s Bollywood movie ‘Ra?One? If ‘yes’, then you have experienced a glimpse of ‘Metaverse’ on your TV/mobile already. Further, imagine tomorrow experiencing Google Earth giving you a facility to walk on the roads virtually, or you finding a way virtually through Google Maps. Imagine you buying a house property in Metaverse and also being able to sell it for money. This can be possible in near future.
The ‘pandemic’ has given us the importance of connecting the physical world, virtually. Without internet penetration and smartphone technology enhancements important services like education, jobs, and banking would have come to halt during the lockdown, world over. ‘Metaverse’ is one such need of the future.
What is ‘Metaverse’?
Metaverse’ refers to a three-dimensional (3D) virtual world combining aspects of online gaming, social media, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and devices like haptic gears (VR-based suits, gloves, headsets) to create an extended reality (XR), where users can use their senses, body motions and interact virtually and experience the immersive, life-like 3D world. Integration of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) can facilitate functions of limitless interactions and seamless integrations of data.
‘Metaverse’ is currently in a nascent stage, which will bring in a highly immersive user experience beyond the current two-dimensional browsing and socializing experience. ‘Metaverse’ can be a real-time ecosystem that overcomes the limitations of geographical boundaries to offer services to users. ‘Metaverse’ can make you create a digital version of yourself and it can be in the form of an ‘Avatar’ profile. The physical world can be mirrored in the ‘Metaverse’.
According to a recent Citi report, Metaverse could generate up to $13 trillion in value for businesses around the world by 2030.
Metaverse’ in Education and Skilling?
‘Metaverse’ can be the next evolution of EdTech—from the use of conventional teaching aids to using AR/XR for a never experienced engaging experience.
Imagine you or a student swimming through the sea and playing with fish sitting in a living room or a student going on a field trip in a factory/farm or taking a walk on the moon without leaving the study desk? Imagine students using VR on a virtual field trip to Antarctica to learn about climate change instead of just watching a recorded video? Imagine a history teacher instead of lecturing on the Harappa civilization takes the students to Harappa and Mohenjo Daro virtually through the use of VR tools and devices? Imagine a doctoral student dissecting a frog to learn anatomy or doing a surgical operation on an Avatar and learning surgery? Imagine a 3D virtual classroom where students irrespective of their geographical location can virtually meet and interact with their classmates and teachers.
‘Metaverse’ can also contribute towards skilling and re-skilling the workforce.
A fully immersive experience can help speed up the pace of learning and improve retention of even some complex concepts. The use of technology can also reduce the cost of purchasing and maintaining expensive equipment for training purposes.
Imagine a fresh automobile engineer from a tier 2-3 town in India getting a virtual tour of an automobile assembly floor and learn fixing repairs or design a sedan car? Imagine a fresh mechanical engineer getting a walk-through of a manufacturing plant?
Automobile companies can develop virtual courses on managing manufacturing workflows in factories or FMCG companies training their staff on supply chain management operations. This reduces onboarding costs, building training centres. Immersive simulations can be done for automotive, electronics, and biomedical engineering, material design, material synthesis, and fine arts.
Education and skilling through ‘Metaverse’ can make learning more engaging, improve learning outcomes. Universities offering online education programs can enhance their learning deliveries and make students experience the real-world challenges through Metaverse.
‘Metaverse’ is believed still to be in the nascent stage (developing) and so proven cases are yet to stabilise and replicable.
Some challenges in developing Metaverse are:
- Effective and strong 5G network will be a pre-requisite to developing Metaverse for mass use.
- Affordability in terms of costs of hardware tools like VR gadgets and goggles. Though the current cost is expensive, improvements in technology will reduce the costs gradually. Users require light and affordable AR/VR devices and fully immersive content of the highest quality.
- Software and hardware investment costs for institutions and corporate for imparting education and training would be initially on a higher level.
- Cost of learning for students and workers will be high initially.
- Cyber security
- Addiction and Mental Health of users
- Privacy & Data Security
- Digital Payments
- Law and Jurisdiction
- Lack of Tech experts
Since ‘Metaverse’ will be a next-gen technology platform, there will be growing need of tech experts who can develop, build, operate and maintain it. There will be a growing need of tech experts like Developers, Programmers, Coders, Game developers, VR developers, 3D tech experts, AR experts, AI experts, ML experts, Blockchain experts, IoT experts, cyber security experts, and hardware engineers.
‘Metaverse’ can be the future to impart close-to-life education and training, without physical intervention. Companies and educational institutions need to invest in building a ‘Metaverse’ for their workforce capability enhancement and young student training, respectively.
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