This article summarizes the January 2023 Abilitie webinar featuring Karl Kapp. You can view the recording here.
The sky looks dark and foreboding as you set up your instrumentation on a beach. Quickly, the water rises to your kneecaps and now your stomach. In the background, an alarm sounds as other beachgoers run for shelter. You’ve been sent here by your employer, a major insurance provider, to help understand how to keep people and property safe amidst a crushing tsunami. But you’re not at risk. The water, the waves, and the swirling clouds above are all part of a carefully articulated 3D digital world. Welcome to learning in the metaverse.
Learning Inside a Tsunami
Metaverse learning is a world where education breaks the paradigm of traditional classrooms, textbooks, and lectures. These immersive experiences provide a unique and engaging learning event tailored to individual learner needs. With virtual environments, learners can explore new concepts and ideas in a safe and controlled setting, allowing for a deeper understanding and retention of the material.
Is this truly the end of in-person learning? Or is the metaverse just another buzzword?
Understanding Virtual Worlds
“My first time in the virtual world was really disappointing,” said Karl Kapp, Professor of Instructional Technology and Director of the Institute for Interactive Technologies at Bloomsburg University. “I sat and virtually watched a classroom presentation and thought, ‘What a waste’.”
What followed for Kapp has been a deep exploration of gamification and virtual environments. Kapp co-authored Learning in 3D, which explores the impact 3D environments and immersive learning spaces will have on society and business. While he’s heard and seen the metaverse defined in a wide variety of ways, Kapp defines the metaverse as a perpetual environment that allows people to identify with where they are, what they’re doing, and how they can interact.
What is the Metaverse and How Does It Impact Learning?
Kapp considers his description of the metaverse to have other core components beyond its perpetualness. He believes a true metaverse is immersive, mimicking the sights, sounds, and even emotions of a particular situation. Everything from background noise to office environments can be made true to form in the metaverse. However, the metaverse doesn’t have to be a true-to-life, typical location — participants may gather inside a giant molecule or meet in an 1800s-era warehouse.
Metaverse Learning is a new approach to education that leverages the power of virtual worlds to enhance and enrich the learning experience. Students can access these environments through various devices such as computers, smartphones, and virtual reality headsets, though VR is not required. Space and time can be designed for the learner — scientists can observe how a product attacks cancer cells, or emergency responders can inspect how bodies react in a car accident. The metaverse brings people together virtually while overcoming traditional training and education problems: immersion, time, and space manipulation.
Applications of Metaverse Learning
Educators have already implemented Metaverse Learning in a wide range of settings, from K-12 classrooms to higher education institutions. Luke Owings, VP of Product at Abilitie, has seen hundreds of Abilitie’s learners gather and collaborate in their immersive leadership and business simulations. “For our mini-MBA program, we created an always-on, virtual campus for our students,” said Owings. “We were teaching participants finance, management, and strategic leadership. On top of those skills, they built a community, and the metaverse was the way to do it.”
Companies can also use Metaverse Learning to teach practical skills and job-related tasks. For example, learners can practice public speaking, project management, or customer service skills in a safe and controlled virtual environment like that of Abilitie’s business simulations. These virtual representations can help prepare employees for real-world problems and improve their confidence and performance in the workplace.
Advantages of Metaverse Learning
Metaverse Learning offers several advantages over traditional classroom-based learning.
First, it provides a more immersive and engaging experience to help learners retain information more effectively. By using simulations and interactive scenarios, learners experience complex concepts in a more tangible and memorable way, which can aid in retention and application of the concepts with greater impact.
When learners can interact with the virtual environment at their own pace, they can also focus on areas where they need more practice or choose to spend more time on topics they find challenging. This ability to hone in on problem areas can lead to a more personalized learning experience tailored to each learner’s needs.
Additionally, Metaverse Learning can be more cost-effective than traditional classroom-based Learning. Since learners can access virtual environments from anywhere, participants do not need to travel to a physical location to participate in the learning experience. A metaverse environment dramatically reduces transportation, lodging, and other expenses.
Metaverse Learning Models
A learning Metaverse is almost limitless in its construction potential. Entirely focused on the outcomes for the learner, a metaverse can deliver precise learning outcomes in situations that are impossible to replicate in traditional classroom environments.
Virtual field trips, or designed situations meant to facilitate knowledge acquisition within a specific environment, can let new warehouse trainees learn about safe operations or city workers learn about the inside of a sewage system from virtual, immersive representations of the physical worlds they will later be working in.
Conceptual orienteering can simulate perspectives by letting learners experience what it’s like to have blurred vision, or medical students experience what it’s like to have schizophrenia. Role-play metaverses can help learners feel like they are actually in a situation. Learners can experience a different gender, or doctors can experience what receiving important health news is like as a patient. From critical incident simulations that immerse learners in real-life emergencies to operational applications that show learners how to use heavy machinery and give feedback when they go off track, Metaverse Learning Models let learners safely and efficiently experience things they never could before.
Metaverse Learning Statistics
The use of virtual worlds in education is increasing, with many schools and universities adopting Metaverse Learning as a core curriculum component. According to a recent report by Technavio, the global market for virtual reality in education is expected to grow over 59% from 2021 to 2026. This growth is driven by the increasing demand for immersive and engaging learning experiences and the growing availability of affordable virtual reality technology.
Future of Metaverse Learning in Education
The future of Metaverse Learning in education looks bright. As students get more eager for virtual experiences and technology becomes more affordable, more schools and universities are likely to adopt Metaverse Learning as a core curriculum component. In addition, the development of new standards and interoperability protocols could enable more seamless collaboration across different virtual worlds.
“If I had to give any advice,” said Kapp, “I would say the first thing is to go into a Metaverse, even if you’re uncomfortable with it, and experiment and figure out what it’s all about.”
Metaverse Learning has the potential to revolutionize education by providing learners with immersive and engaging learning experiences. By leveraging the power of virtual worlds, educators can create scenarios and simulations that allow learners to experience complex concepts in a tangible and memorable way.
To learn more about Abilitie’s immersive business simulations, schedule a demo here.