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A New Avatar Of Education Is Taking Shape In The Metaverse, But Are We Prepared?

A New Avatar Of Education Is Taking Shape In The Metaverse, But Are We Prepared?

Although the metaverse offers the education sector numerous avenues for creativity, several limitations exist.

Imagine that you are 10 years old and you are in history class, but you are not seated on the wooden bench from your school with your elbows on the desk and your hands supporting your sagging head. Instead, you’ve settled into your home’s sofa and donned a unique set of spectacles with a headset that will whisk you away to an India ruled by the Mughal emperor Akbar.

This 45-minute history tour, which differs from a typical lecture in that it offers a first-hand experience of the social, cultural, and economic life of that era in a virtual setting, is sure to captivate you to the fullest. Hello and welcome to the metaverse. Due to constantly advancing technology, schooling is likewise destined to change, a trend that was hastened by the Covid-19 epidemic. Due to the closure of schools, educational institutions had to swiftly embrace new technical solutions to hold courses and teach students throughout the world, which made them more receptive to upcoming technological changes.

A group of specialists thinks that within the next several years, digital innovations like metaverse will see mainstream acceptance, much as how mobile phones did. It is only a matter of time before educational institutions begin conducting major metaverse experiments, ushering in a fresh wave of technological innovation in the field of education.

Multitudes Of Metaverse  

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The metaverse has the potential to make education more interesting than the conventional offline method; that much is certain. Teachers will be able to create a virtual environment that transports the entire classroom to a different, intricate location, such as a physics lab, historical site, industrial, or even the surface of a planet. Because of its digital environment’s scalability and customizability, learning in this setting is both affordable and engaging.

By providing the same experience to everyone, Metaverse may be able to democratize education and close the gap between urban and rural schooling. Teachers may create a virtual environment where students from diverse backgrounds can gather to learn and then work together to solve issues in the real world. This will enable classroom innovation unlike anything seen before, said a digital expert working with a government agency.

Numerous educational institutes in India have already started trying new things. Many prestigious institutions in Delhi NCR and other regions of the nation have established augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) laboratories where they allow pupils to engage in the virtual style of instruction. It may effectively transport the school of your choice into your living room and be regarded as an immersive experience.

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This year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), a national educational authority, even worked with social networking juggernaut Meta to investigate the potential applications of the metaverse for instruction and training. According to Dr Biswajit Saha, director of training and skill education at the CBSE, the metaverse offers a variety of options, including improving immersive or project-based learning as well as standardizing STEM education in India. He claims that skilling on Metaverse may make our workforce more producer and creator-focused by empowering students with immersive technology like AR and VR.

Making Up for Infrastructure Gaps

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The department of computer science and engineering at IIT Bombay’s associate professor Parag Chaudhuri believes there are a lot of productive uses for the metaverse in education. He cites the opportunity for students to do challenging experiments from a distance in shared, virtual lab environments.

“This can provide students who do not have access to expensive experimental setups or equipment a chance to gain firsthand experience. All educational levels, from elementary to tertiary, can benefit from the metaverse. Additionally, research is ongoing there, says Chaudhuri. The metaverse can be used to enhance traditional classroom instruction in elementary education. Manav Subodh, the co-founder of 1 Million For 1 Billion, social innovation and future skills platform, adds that it also has wonderful benefits for skilling and that it will open up new dimensions for skilling children.

“Many start-ups that are focused on educating children have built metaverse laboratories where they provide a variety of training. For instance, there are virtual laboratories where you can get that training, and if you make a mistake, you won’t be wounded, he says. If you want to learn to weld.

According to Subodh, who manages a platform that has been collaborating with several start-ups and educational institutions around the nation to establish AR and VR laboratories, Metaverse might also be a solution for areas with infrastructural problems. Like Subodh, many others think that integrating this immersive technology into educational settings can foster children’s growth through multimodal learning. Additionally, it would broaden pupils’ perspectives by exposing them to countries and ways of life outside their own.

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“Students and teachers from all over the world may connect and communicate with one another in the metaverse just like they would in a traditional classroom. No matter where they are physical, they may learn about any subject of their choice, according to Priya Samant, CEO and co-founder of Abris.io, a US company that operates in virtual worlds like the metaverse. According to Samant, a multicultural setting will promote acquiring a variety of skills and respect for many cultures and cognitive processes. 

During this learning experience, students expand their visualisation and knowledge acquisition capabilities while teachers teach them to think outside the box, she says. As a result of this, the next generation will be prepared to become artists, entrepreneurs, and technologists who will revolutionize the creator economy with their knowledge and skills of non-fungible tokens and other Web3 technologies. She says that this is a truly game-changing innovation for 21st-century education.

The platform can revolutionize the whole education sector and change the possibilities of learning for both current and future generations, according to Rajesh Panda, founder of the Singapore-based edtech company Corporate Gurukul. Rajesh Panda’s statement echoes Samant’s.

Panda cites a history lecture as an example, saying that “with AR and VR, a dull history lesson may convert into a virtual reality video game where students can bounce in and out of timelines in their VR avatars while experiencing entirely other time zones.”

Upcoming obstacles

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Despite its many positive and practical qualities, many experts believe that further technological, health, social, and governmental hurdles need to be overcome before children can be blindly trusted in this new environment.

According to Chaudhuri, when used for more than 10 to 15 minutes, the technology for immersive personal displays using head-mounted displays may be quite strenuous on the eyes. Depending on their capacity, individuals could experience nausea or other unfavourable side effects. One explanation for this is the tension between vergence and accommodation that our eyes and optical system experience after wearing such displays.

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“There are many more technological problems, such fidelity of rendering, including bandwidth and latency needs that come with it, and lifelike virtual characters,” he claims. “This field is actively being researched.”

It is a policy issue since there is no current regulation that governs how people live in the metaverse. As a result, vigilance is necessary, as is the necessity for ongoing study and education about the region, according to Chaudhuri.

I have cautious optimism about its ability to change the face of education. However, to decrease the barrier to entry into this virtual life and to make it safe and comfortable for kids when this is implemented for education, it will take a lot of concerted technological and legislative effort, according to Chaudhuri.

This raises yet another crucial issue in this communal virtual world: privacy. The risk is increased if corporate organizations, rather than the users themselves, are gathering and storing the data.

The metaverse is also rife with diseases and other human vices. The claimed computer specialist for the government agency makes his point by using bullying and trolling as examples of how human behaviour is replicated in the metaverse. Machine learning from data is risky because of the latent biases we encode in that data.

The safety considerations are also highlighted by CBSE’s Saha: “We need to go cautiously. In terms of cybersecurity and digital well-being, student safety is of the highest significance. We must ensure that the metaverse is secure for the present and next generations.

Regarding the digital divide, many point out the risk of the metaverse spreading it even more because it requires a strong digital infrastructure and gadgets, both of which the government can only supply. “First and foremost, we want quality open-source 3D assets. Everyone should be able to access it. Consequently, if we can make it democratic rather than exclusive, a sizable population could profit from it, according to Subodh.

Edited by Prakriti Arora

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