There’s some confusion about what Metaverse is but we’ll summarize it and break down how it works and why it may be used in higher education and online learning in the near future. 

What is Metaverse?

Long story short, Metaverse, sometimes called Meta or Meta Platforms, is a virtual “world” where you can do almost everything that you do in real life such as: 

  • Seeing and speaking with other people 
  • Touching objects in the environment around you 
  • Buying and selling digital products
  • Sharing information and resources 
  • Playing games

But most importantly, Metaverse provides many different ways to improve online learning for students and faculty. 

As Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, describes it, “Instead of just viewing content — you are in it.”

How does Metaverse work? 

Facebook’s Metaverse blends different elements of virtual reality and augmented reality, social media, gaming, digital communication tools, and even e-commerce. 

How can higher education institutions use Metaverse?

Pretty much every aspect of Metaverse can be used in higher education and online learning. 

Some institutions use bits and pieces of the foundational digital tools used in Metaverse, such as incorporating virtual reality, using gamification, and connecting with students and other faculty members through a variety of communication technologies. 

So, institutions that embrace digital spaces like Metaverse have opportunities to get ahead of the technology curve while it’s still “young” to help further engage students and improve the educational experience.

Creating online classrooms that feel real

Online teaching and learning can be difficult for many students and instructors. While online classes are convenient, it leaves some feeling disconnected from others in the class.

Online classrooms can feel as “real” as possible

  • Instructors can create rooms with life-like objects
    • Instructors can build literal rooms with lifelike objects for students to engage with and learn. 
    • Students can walk around the room, raise their hands, sit at their desks, and use a pencil to write notes on paper. Implementing education in the Metaverse allows you to do just about anything that you can do in a real classroom.
    • Avatars that look just like the person can be created, customized, and updated. This means that students can change their shirts and hairstyles whenever they want. 
    • The avatars don’t resemble a cartoon as you may expect; they’re ultra-realistic which may help bring an additional sense of realism to the online classroom. 

Organizing student study groups and conducting faculty meetings

  • Students can build study rooms to meet at
    • Just like instructors can create realistic classrooms, students can do the same for their study groups. They can build spaces to meet up, share information, and connect with their classmates.
  • Faculty can conduct internal meetings
    • Similar to the points above, faculty can create rooms to hold departmental meetings, collaborate, and share information. 

Improving interaction and communication 

  • Building on the points above, the ability to see and speak to one another in realistic environments helps create a sense of community through genuine interactions and communication.
  • Incorporating education in the Metaverse allows students to collaborate, socialize, and play games in class
  • Instructors have different ways to connect with students such as speaking and seeing each other, holding office hours, sharing files and resources, networking, and even playing games. 

Using virtual reality and augmented reality

  • Using virtual reality in online learning isn’t a new concept but it’s something that can be further utilized in the future with platforms like Metaverse. Students just throw on a VR headset and they’re suddenly in a realistic learning environment.

Incorporating gamification

  • Gamification in online courses makes learning fun and interactive, and it applies to pretty much any subject.
  • Instructors can incorporate game-based learning activities that are further emphasized through realistic environments and the virtual/augmented reality Metaverse brings.    

While Metaverse is a new platform that’s in the early stages of development, it has the potential to create engaging online courses that improve the teaching and learning experience for students and instructors in the future.

Read our recent blog if you’re wondering what to expect from educational technology and online learning in the near future.

Top EdTech and Online Learning Trends for 2022



 

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