The metaverse is a tool that blends experiences typically associated with either the virtual or physical worlds. It can deliver greater immersive learning for students while also creating some new and exciting teaching opportunities. For educators, it is crucial to not only understand what the metaverse is and its uses within education but to also realize the benefits of immersive learning with the metaverse.
Keep reading to learn about six of the most significant benefits of immersive, metaverse learning, or head over to UNIVERSE, by ViewSonic and see the latest in metaverse education.
The metaverse is an emerging technology that is gradually becoming more mainstream within education, in part because it delivers immersive learning experiences for students. Essentially, the metaverse allows academic institutions and educators to create engaging experiences that teach valuable information, which encourages exploration and experimentation. What’s more, the metaverse itself can be accessed using a variety of devices.
With that being said, metaverse learning is a relatively new concept and one that many educators are still getting to grips with. At the same time, because the metaverse is also being used in areas like social media and the creation of video games, its use as an educational tool has not necessarily been fully understood by all.
In this article, we will cover the topic of the metaverse and its relation to immersive learning in more depth while also highlighting six specific benefits associated with teachers using the technology for this purpose.
Understanding Immersive Learning and the Metaverse
One of the very best ways to teach students and guarantee they understand and retain information is by ensuring they are immersed in the lesson. This is the basis of immersive learning as a concept. However, true immersion is not guaranteed, and issues, such as accessibility, are always important to consider. Thankfully, the emergence of the metaverse has helped to overcome some of these problems.
Broadly, the metaverse refers to the creation of virtual worlds or spaces in which social interactions can occur. The metaverse is most commonly associated with extended reality technology (virtual reality and augmented reality), as well as with social media capabilities and the use of digital avatars controlled by users.
As an article for the Digital Learning Institute explains, the metaverse has been a game changer for immersive learning because classes can both be delivered and accessed in a virtual setting. Additionally, the use of avatars within the metaverse delivers something akin to student-centered learning. This is because there is a degree of learner autonomy and independence associated with it, and students take on more responsibility for more of their own learning.
The Impact of Education’s Digital Transformation
In recent years, education has undergone a digital transformation, and this will be apparent when you consider the average classroom today compared to the average classroom 20 or 30 years ago. For instance, chalkboards have mostly been replaced by digital whiteboards, and most learning environments now utilize computers and various types of software.
This digital transformation has had a positive impact in many areas, helping to provide accessibility, preparing students for the modern and digital world, and making life easier for teachers who wish to share information. However, it has also meant that students are expected to have more agency when it comes to controlling their own learning.
The metaverse and its ability to offer immersive learning could serve as another means of helping both students and teachers to create a successful learning environment that meets contemporary educational standards and prepares students for modern life.
Benefits of Immersive Learning with the Metaverse
Equipped with an understanding of what the metaverse is and how it works within the field of education, it is worth taking some time to explore some of the specific benefits of using this technology to deliver immersive learning experiences. In the sections that follow, we take a closer look at six of these benefits:
1) Immersive learning is very similar to experiential learning
Experiential learning is the process of learning through direct experience. As a definition published by Boston University explains, it is an example of “learning by doing,” and some of the related activities can include field trips, laboratory experiments, and studio performances. To provide an example, a group of students learning about space and the stars may be able to learn through the experience of going outside and looking at stars through a telescope.
Immersive metaverse learning can help students and teachers to achieve similar benefits without the need to physically experience things in this way. This means that similar learning outcomes can be achieved at any time, even if the conditions are not ideal and if observing something or traveling somewhere is not possible. In some cases, the immersive learning experiences made possible through the metaverse could provide the same benefits as experiential learning.
To stick with the same example, a group of students learning about stars through the metaverse could go into a virtual recreation of space, use an avatar to move around, see stars in close detail, and learn other related information at the same time. For instance, their avatars could be impacted by the effects of gravity, or their avatars could need protective equipment when exploring a specific environment in space.
Immersive learning makes it possible for students to reach learning objectives by activating their curiosity, and engaging with their questioning and experimentation, which ultimately helps in the development of useful problem-solving skills.
2) Immersive learning with the metaverse can be a tool for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)
As the term ‘immersive learning’ suggests, the primary aim of this type of education is to immerse students in the learning experience as well as their environment. However, making this kind of immersion accessible for everyone, regardless of their circumstances, is a major barrier that must be overcome. Using the metaverse can assist greatly with this by providing the opportunity to invite students with different needs to participate in positive and engaging learning experiences.
Many immersive learning experiences are difficult or impossible to access for students with physical disabilities or impairments. For instance, imagine a class trip to study mountain ranges. The physical act of scaling the mountains or accessing the surrounding area could be impossible for a student in a wheelchair. If this lesson is moved into the metaverse, far more students will be able to participate and experience the mountain environment.
This is a key reason why digital accessibility has become such a hot topic. The purpose of accessibility is to make educational experiences available to students, regardless of issues like impairments, disabilities, neurodivergence, and economic status. Crucially, equity can be achieved through metaverse learning because the obstacles faced by those with the greatest needs can be overcome, and these students can be immersed through extended reality technology.
This technology can also cater to a variety of other needs too. For example, subtitles or speech-to-text technology could assist those with hearing impairments, and the ability to control a metaverse avatar could aid students who may struggle in certain social situations and even those who have difficulties with anxiety-inducing behaviors.
3) Versions of the metaverse are accessible on many different types of technology
Immersive learning with the metaverse provides many of the advantages associated with concepts like virtual learning and eLearning, such as the ability to access relevant content on a variety of devices. While there are still challenges associated with the digital divide and access to technology, this gap is shrinking all the time, especially with smartphones widening access to digital content and software.
As a result of these two trends, it is fair to say that widespread access to the metaverse is now possible, and this access is only going to increase in the future. This means that immersive learning through the metaverse should be accessible to a much larger number of students all around the world, and this audience will be ever-growing.
Using the UNIVERSE by ViewSonic metaverse platform as an example, the relevant software is already available for devices running Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s iOS operating systems. Support for macOS and Android will follow, meaning it will be able to be used on desktop or laptop computers and smartphones or tablets without the need for any other accessories. Support for virtual reality headsets will also be available, providing optional extended reality experiences.
All of this means that immersive, metaverse learning is already accessible to people with computers and smartphones, and the range of options is only going to grow. Students who have access to these devices at home will be able to participate from anywhere that suits them, while other students can be provided access to technology at school.
4) Collaborative learning can be enhanced and made easier
Collaborative learning is already an important educational trend, but it is going to become an even more significant trend in the future. We are already seeing a greater number of schools taking an interest in student-centered learning, as well as active learning, and collaborative efforts can assist with this.
As with other forms of learning, collaborative learning can be made better by immersing students in experiences that they care about and gain enjoyment from. To take the previous example about learning about stars and space, the power of the metaverse means this can be turned into a multi-learning opportunity with different objectives. And it provides the possibility for students to work together in order to achieve some of those objectives, too.
The metaverse can also help collaborative learning to feel more realistic. To offer up another example of this, imagine a group of medical students learning important techniques for surgery. It is fair to say that experience in the field is essential, but sometimes this can also be difficult to deliver on a regular basis. With the metaverse, a team of medical students could work together in a virtual recreation of a surgery room and apply their collective knowledge.
Ultimately, all of this means that collaborative learning can be enhanced through the metaverse but also made easier and more accessible. There would no longer be a need to wait for facilities to become available or find the ideal time to meet up because physical meetings and collaborative sessions are replaced by virtual meet-ups.
5) Modern students can learn expected future skills in a relatable environment
The overwhelming majority of modern students are extremely tech-savvy and are often described as digital natives. This is because they have grown up in an age where computers and the internet are readily available. Whether they spend time on apps like TikTok or are interested in esports, these students are constantly making use of digital technology. So, it makes sense for educators to capitalize on this shift and meet students where they already are.
The idea of ‘edutainment’ is certainly a growing trend and an area that the metaverse can help to cater to. Nevertheless, in order to maximize learning outcomes, other elements like social interaction must also be factored into the equation. In general, the current generation of students is more likely to engage with gamification elements or with social media platforms. Thus, recreating relevant features for learning can have a positive impact.
When metaverse platforms are carefully designed, they can provide a great way for students to learn skills that they are expected to learn while operating in an environment that feels familiar and relatable.
Overall, immersive learning delivered through a metaverse platform, like UNIVERSE by ViewSonic, is able to provide a much more engaging space for learning. In this virtual world, students are able to experiment and learn safely in an environment that allows adaptability to their needs and comfort.
6) Immersive learning with the metaverse could be the future of workforce learning
When exploring educational needs, a big topic of discussion is related to workforce training and ensuring that students leave school with the required skills to succeed in future employment. One area where immersive learning through the metaverse could offer real potential is by helping to standardize learning across education and employment.
It is already the case that some human resources (HR) departments and other corporate teams, such as marketing, have started to turn to online training for the onboarding of employees and training in new systems and software. That’s because this allows companies to onboard multiple new recruits and train many employees at the same time. The current generation of students is already used to online learning from school so they may find this easier to adapt to.
The concept of online onboarding in the workplace is also likely to follow the pattern of online learning and move into the metaverse space. This is especially likely, given the rise of remote working models and the challenges of online onboarding—as pointed out in an article published by the Harvard Business Review.
Therefore, it is fair to say that metaverse learning in schools could help to prepare students for employment because skills learned through the metaverse, including collaboration, will carry over directly.
The metaverse is one of the latest developments in the digital transformation of education. Its ability to provide immersive learning experiences using digital devices and the internet means that students can enjoy more engaging lessons and greater autonomy, while the technology itself also offers significant accessibility benefits.
Read more about accessibility in the classroom, or how to teach tech-savvy students using metaverse avatars, or if you haven’t yet, visit UNIVERSE by ViewSonic.