The metaverse has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation over the past few years, with a growing number of schools and universities using it to engage students. But many people still remain sceptical of the metaverse and its impact on society.
Many wonder whether it will actually become a new channel for living and working, and what the real, tangible benefits are, or whether it’s simply another here-today-gone-tomorrow tech trend.
But already, universities around the world have started looking to the metaverse to further engage students in their studies. Some institutions have already rolled out their own metaverse-style learning programmes and last year Meta announced plans to help 10 universities to open metaverse campuses, including University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). It is one of the selected universities with over 45,000 online students who will soon be able to meet and take classes in the metaverse. If successful, this movement will no doubt trickle down into schools across the world.
“Many wonder whether it’s simply another here-today-gone-tomorrow tech trend.”
A metaverse-style way of learning is an immersive environment which combines virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to create a “digital twin” of the physical settings. Students and teachers can interact with each other via their own avatar which is a digital representation of themselves. Many schools across the UK (and internationally) have introduced metaverse-style learning in some form. For example, Inspired Education Group, the global group of premium schools, announced last year that it would launch a pilot of VR and metaverse technology as part of its determination to deepen learning and to inspire all students to achieve their potential.
“The traditional classroom can be intimidating for those who feel shy about participating.”
As well as making education more accessible for students across the world, the metaverse has another less-commonly spoken about benefit — engagement. Since 2015 according to Statista, the percentage of children in the UK who play games online increased from 54 per cent to 80 per cent within 12 to 15 year olds. The metaverse applies this gamification element to learning, which can help a variety of students to be more present and engaged with their studies. Below, I lay out how this works:
Metaverse learning can further engage anxious or shy students
The traditional classroom can be intimidating for those who feel shy about participating or nervous about answering questions. However, a metaverse style role enables students to participate in a more immersive and interactive environment, where they may feel more confident to answer questions and won’t feel as self-conscious or shy to engage with other students. Metaverse learning is styled in a way that actually encourages students to take part. In fact, King’s InterHigh, an independent school in London, has announced plans to roll out metaverse learning in order to “deepen learning and to inspire all students to achieve their unique potential”.
Remote learning becomes more inclusive
Another benefit of metaverse leaning is how it can help to not only engage remote learners but also enhance their university experience. As it stands, remote learning may often involve logging onto an online portal or video conferencing software to participate in a lesson, which can make remote learners feel isolated and less included in the learning experience.
However, metaverse learning can level the playing field by incorporating certain social elements that replicate the university experience, such as walking to lessons, engaging with other students before and after lessons, and feeling as though they’re in the lecture hall. This all helps to enhance the student experience, and in turn, increase their engagement.
Metaverse learning can reduce absenteeism
Part of being an engaged student is attendance. Metaverse learning may make attending lessons easier for students, for both those living on and off campus. Students miss lessons for all sorts of reasons, whether it be sickness, transport failure or — for those who suffer with anxiety — feeling overwhelmed at the thought of being in a room full of strangers.
“Metaverse learning can replicate walking to lessons and engaging with other students.”
However, metaverse learning enables students to still attend lessons without having to leave their home, helping to eradicate the barrier of having to be physically present in order to learn. This can democratise the learning process, help students maximise their learning experience and help universities to create a more inclusive environment for every student.
Digital learning is the future of education, and I believe that metaverse learning will have a huge impact in the edtech sector, engaging children to “level up” their knowledge and give them the skills and confidence to go on to do great things. I wish for a future where every child can reach their potential and I hope that edtech will bridge the gap for those who find the current education system just doesn’t work for them.