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The Metaverse in Training and Education: How Virtual Worlds are Changing Learning

The Metaverse in Training and Education: How Virtual Worlds are Changing Learning


The metaverse, a collective virtual shared space, is rapidly transforming the way we interact with technology, communicate with one another, and learn. In this article, we will explore how the metaverse is being utilized in training and education to create immersive and interactive learning experiences that engage and educate learners like never before.

What is the metaverse, exactly?

Metaverse. The term has only really existed in the zeitgeist for a couple of years, but it’s gaining traction quickly. Despite the confusingly similar names, Meta (formerly Facebook) doesn’t own the metaverse. In fact, it can’t own it, because the metaverse isn’t a product – it’s an idea. To refresh your memory – or give you a brief overview if this is unknown territory – the metaverse is a shared, openvirtual environment. Emphasis on the shared part, as being able to interact with other users in these digital domains is essential to the metaverse. In the metaverse, you can move, speak, and interact with other avatars who are other real people and not just very convincing bits of coding. Currently, many VR or AR experiences are designed for the individual, like a single-player video game. A core tenet of the metaverse is connectivity, meaning that multiple users can don VR headsets, and all be immersed in the same virtual world together, more like a multiplayer server. Interaction, collaboration, and communication – all in an immersive digital environment. Siemens and NVIDIA recently announced a collaborative ‘Industrial metaverse’ platform where the manufacturing giant plans to use the tech to streamline production and employee collaboration around the world – particularly when physical supply chains are interrupted by unavoidable world events. The metaverse has many exciting possible uses in gaming, social media, business, and – of course – the future evolution of learning and employee training.


Technological flexibility

Fundamentally, metaverse technology is based on virtual and augmented reality – the headsets, sensors, and programmed computerised environments. Users can create customised avatars, converse with others using proximity mics, and use the controllers or gestures to move around and really inhabit the digital world they’re in. Crucially, the metaverse has the capability and flexibility to incorporate other new technologies. Promisingly for education purposes, another key development that the metaverse incorporates is digital twinning. Digital twinning is where a physical object has a linked CGI duplicate, which has many benefits as a teaching tool that you can read about here.


What makes the metaverse beneficial for learning?

Use of the metaverse in training and upskilling is relatively new, but virtual reality – the fundamental tech that underpins the entire metaverse – has already been proven to deliver real advantages in education. When it comes to pedagogy, there are a number of advantages in using the metaverse for training. Experiential learning made more accessible. For training, the experiential approach of ‘learning by doing’ is often the most desirable but unfortunately also the least practical. But with the immersive nature of metaverse training, experiential learning is more feasible than ever. Technologies like virtual reality or augmented reality learners can “learn by doing” but in a safe environment that is risk free and could be repeated without material loss (more on that later). Research has shown that VR in training results in more engaged learners with higher rates of information retention. In one study, students in a VR-based curriculum were found to be scoring 20 percentage points higher than those in a traditional lessons, scoring 93% on average in their final tests compared to 73%. Engaging narratives helps facts and figures stick Simulation training allows for narrativization of learning, where facts, figures, and information is transformed into a story. The human mind has a fondness for stories and we remember more information if it is presented in a story, than as a list. In fact, neuroscientist Uri Hansson’s research has found that storytelling even allows our brains to ‘sync up’ with one another. The lectures, TED talks, and training sessions that really stick are those where information is woven into a story. Metaverse training utilises innovative instructional design to really harness the educational power of narratives. Visualisations makes training really come alive With the capability to create sophisticated virtual worlds convincingly you can create simulations that are highly similar to the real world. Importantly, VR can convincingly visualise the real duties that your employees would be doing. Visualisation is an exceedingly useful tool when it comes to training particularly for any practical role and the metaverse offers this capability to a level that has never been seen before. Caters to the breadth of learning styles Research have opened up the eyes of many individual educators and institutions to the fact that not everyone learns in the same way, and that education needs to cater to this variety in order to be both equitable and effective. Metaverse training provides a multisensory learning experience. Combining text, images, audio, movement, and responsive feedback like vibrations or warning sounds, VR is an inclusive learning technology. With the connectivity of the metaverse, the social interaction element of learning – being able to engage with your peers and your trainer – is also provided. Higher rates of learner engagement At some point, everyone has sat through a… let’s say less-than-exhilarating training session in their professional lives. For many learning & development professionals, maintaining learner engagement with content is a goal – and boosting it can seem like a Herculean task. Virtual reality-based training, however, has been found to be up to 4x as engaging as conventional employee training. With higher learner engagement rates, metaverse training could ensure your employees are more actively involved in their own professional development.


Practical advantages that metaverse training offers businesses.

As well as educational innovation, metaverse training comes with some real concrete benefits for companies and organisation. Here is just a selection of the many potential boons on offer: Making remote learning collaborative Remote working and learning have many positive elements, but for the individual it can feel a bit… well, remote. Just in the same way that the internet compresses distances with near-instant communication, the metaverse brings individuals together no matter their physical location. Instead of just one learner practising in a VR simulation, the metaverse allows for the students to be there and also the trainer so everyone can see and interact in the virtual space in the same way that they would be in a classroom or a workshop or wherever training is happening. You could have a trainer teaching how to fix an engine, wire a component, or show how to care for a patient to a group of new hires who are in a different country – or even continent! With hybrid and remote employee training being increasingly commonplace, metaverse education is a handy solution for learning & development professionals to make their team feel like a team, even when they aren’t in the same room. Slashes risks For industries and for job roles that are potentially dangerous, whether for the employee themselves and/or others being able to simulate training experiences is invaluable. imagine surgeons being able to train together in a virtual theatre with an instructor and a virtual patient in an environment that feels real but without the risk of injury or worse. This type of immersive and realistic practice space with no risks is something that hasn't been possible without virtual reality. Mining, a notoriously dangerous profession, is one such industry that has seen the risk-reduction first hand. A trial into the use of VR in training for a group of South African miners was found to lead to a substantial 43% drop in injuries. Less risk is better for everyone, and metaverse training provides this. Reduces costs and wasted resources Many highly technical and specialist roles in manufacturing, machining, or engineering Investment in terms of the physical resource is needed in the training process. with the combination of detailed virtual objects that can be modelled 1:1 on their physical counterparts and feedback both visual and haptic, metaverse training offers a real reduction in the amount of wasted or damaged material. Whilst anything to do with VR might seem exorbitantly expensive at first because of the tech involved, it’s been found that VR training actually achieves cost parity with classroom learning at just 375 learners. Scale it up to 3000 learners – not a wild figure for many major corporations – and the technology becomes 52% more cost-effective than conventional methods (source: PWC) Examples of this are already popping up where companies and organisations like Boeing, Microsoft, Walmart and more, are using VR as a teaching tool allowing new hires to gain experience in tasks that they might not be able to physically without significant risk or cost. More confident and better trained employees A major problem that often crops up with training is that whilst employees might have the knowledge that they need they don't feel as confident as they could be without having a chance to try things out. Imagine stepping out onto a theatre stage for a show’s first night without having done any rehearsals – you’re probably not going to perform at your best. With metaverse training allowing detailed simulations before the real thing this is like having weeks of rehearsals. The aforementioned PWC study found that workers were 275% more confident to take on tasks after VR training, showing just how significant metaverse based training can be when it comes to empowering your employees to perform at their best.

What does the future of metaverse learning hold?

With an expected tenfold market value of metaverse in education from around $4 billion in 2021 to over $30 billion in 2028, it’s clear that there is some real interest from businesses and organisations in this development. So, for your employee learning & development programs, why not consider training in the virtual world to deliver concrete results in the real one.


 

Sources Vantage Market Research

https://www.vantagemarketresearch.com/industry-report/metaverse-in-education-market-1515 University of Maryland VR research https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180613162613.htm PWC Study into VR adoption and soft skills learning

https://www.pwc.com/us/en/tech-effect/emerging-tech/virtual-reality-study.html PWC Study into VR Training Effectiveness

https://www.pwc.co.uk/issues/emerging-technologies/metaverse-technologies/study-into-vr-training-effectiveness.html Siemens Industrial Metaverse https://www.siemens.com/global/en/company/insights/why-the-industrial-metaverse-is-closer-than-you-think.html TED Blog – Uri Hasson research into storytelling

https://blog.ted.com/what-happens-in-the-brain-when-we-hear-stories-uri-hasson-at-ted2016/ Virtual reality for mine safety training in South Africa, A Squelch, 2001 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291810042_Virtual_reality_for_mine_safety_training_in_South_Africa HTC Vive VR study

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-research-suggests-vr-offers-exciting-new-ways-to-unlock-student-potential-300375212.html

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