KUALA LUMPUR, 6.12.2021 – ‘Metaverse’, the brand-new concept that Facebook was recently named after. Does it have any function to its name? Or is it just a headline to gawk over until the next new scoop comes in?
A combination of several technological elements – including virtual and augmented reality, Metaverse provides a digital space where users can come together to interact, play, or live within a digital environment. This unique space has already existed in online games such as Roblox and Fortnite. As of late, it has expanded to cover one of the most essential industries – education.
The advantages of metaverse are extending to education, where active class participation can be enhanced through promising new technology.
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The virtual spaces can exist in the forms of 3D environments or immersive virtual reality (VR).
The metaverse term was popularized by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he rebranded the name of his company to Meta.
In regards to the growing popularity of metaverse, he said, “This may sound like science fiction, but we’re starting to see a lot of these technologies come together.”
He added: “In the next 5 to 10 years, a lot of this is going to be mainstream. When it’s complete, our physical reality will merge with the digital universe.”
As a common trait in games such as Minecraft and Fortnite where players can create their own virtual worlds, the shared virtual space in metaverse is now seen as a promising new platform for the future of education and learning.
With the Covid-19 pandemic causing the education sector to take a huge hit – which saw 91% of the world’s student population suffering from a disrupted education – it had led to the quick rise of online education as a digital way of teaching and learning.
To push digitized education to greater heights, metaverse is able to merge technologies that can help accelerate online delivery through creative and modern solutions.
The pandemic had widened the learning gap among students, but blended learning has proved to be effective, especially in remote learning where students only get to meet their peers and teachers through the Zoom application.
For example, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) offered its students a 60:40 ratio of real-time Zoom classes and pre-recorded lessons. The combined format received positive evaluations from students.
Kwang Hyung Lee, President of KAIST mentioned that “students were satisfied with the real-time classes in which they could interact face to face with professors.”
Other advantages of metaverse include creating new experiences that can go beyond online education itself.
Virtual campus visits will be highly possible, allowing universities to disrupt the global barrier that separates students and educators from different parts of the world. Students and parents will no longer need to drive long hours to view the campus, conveniently relying on the virtual space in Metaverse instead.
For example, the opening of the Kenya-KAIST virtual campus 60km from the capital city Nairobi in September 2023 will allow the institution to extend their reach across continents, bringing students together in a ‘metaverse’ without them leaving their home country.
“It will reduce the need for many students and faculty to make the long commute from the capital to the campus. Although students are expected to live on campus, they will probably engage in other activities in Nairobi and want to take classes wherever they are,’ Lee added.
As the concept of metaverse in gaming is nothing new, transitioning to virtual spaces in education can be a smooth process.
While hands-on subjects may need a few more years to transition into metaverse, the first few applications into education will most likely be in the forms of virtual campus activities, 3D simulations, and gamified activities.
One thing that’s for sure, that metaverse is the door to the future of education.
Check out our article about virtual study abroad.
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