As the metaverse industry is expected to be an $800 billion market by 2024, we continue to learn new ways this immersive, virtual environment might better enable us to connect with each other from anywhere in the world. This comes at a time when many are already participating in and benefitting from virtual activities that otherwise would not be possible due to constraints of distance, time or cost.
In enabling new opportunities for virtual rather than in-person instruction, the metaverse has the power to transform access to education and the way we learn. The types of education that the metaverse can accommodate are varied, from school-based interactive learning and workplace training to professional accreditation. In so many ways, the metaverse is offering new chances for people to learn what they want by mitigating obstacles of accessibility.
The Rise In Virtual Learning And Advantages Of The Metaverse
Today, there are already a variety of options emerging when it comes to virtual learning. We already have instructional and how-to videos, online courses, Zoom classes and online executive certificate programs where students can interact with instructors from anywhere. The e-learning industry alone is expected to be a $457.8 billion market by 2026. In addition, innovative VR trainings are being introduced that can instruct people on how to do a range of complicated tasks, from conducting ultrasounds to fighting fires.
Some might wonder in what capacity the metaverse might truly allow for a significantly better virtual learning experience than what we already have. The answer seems to point us toward the old parable contrasting the short-term value of giving a man a fish, that he might eat for a day, versus the long-term value teaching him how to fish himself, that he might eat for the rest of his life.
Today, “teaching a man how to fish” might be best reflected in providing learners with the sort of multidimensional, immersive experiences enabled by the metaverse.
Here are just three examples of educational models that might be transformed with the wider access to rich learning opportunities afforded by the metaverse.
1. Workplace Training
There are certain types of hands-on trainings that require the physical presence of an individual who can guide you through the steps. In this capacity, the metaverse can allow learners a head start in understanding certain concepts and techniques. Bartenders, for example, might be able to experience the moment-to-moment details that go into mixing the perfect cocktail—coming just short of being able to taste it.
The same could apply to those involved in industrial trainings. Trainees may not be able to feel or touch the materials, but in using VR and/or AR-enhanced visuals, they could replicate the experience of building a table or completing a trade training course. Workplaces could even put multimedia rooms inside their training centers where this immersive kind of training could be of great benefit to standard training programs.
2. Interactive Classroom Learning
Students might be able to enjoy the experience of taking a field trip without ever leaving a classroom. They could be able to visit in up-close detail any number of natural and manmade wonders without leaving the classroom or take a stroll through their city in the 19th century.
Imagine being able to visit the Grand Canyon in a way that makes the classroom experience as close as possible to being there. Imagine being able to learn chess from Bobby Fischer or discuss physics with Stephen Hawking.
By overlaying AR elements onto materials, students can get a better feel and sense for what they are learning, making the lessons more engaging and instructive.
3. Professional Accreditation
Might the metaverse be able to help people obtain advanced accreditation in fields such as real estate, accounting or coding? We think so.
The metaverse provides individuals with the interactive tools needed to navigate the various aspects that go into truly understanding the tasks and functions of these professions in real time. It elevates the material beyond a one-way delivery of theoretical information.
In the same way we’ve begun teaching people how to build websites and mobile apps, for example, it will become even more possible to teach people how to build metaverse experiences themselves.
Some Additional Considerations
Many may—and should—doubt that metaverse-based education will replace in-person learning. The future of education in the metaverse shouldn’t be considered a replacement insomuch as an enhancement of in-person learning. Metaverse-based learning does not seek to remove human experience, but rather to technologically capture and replicate it, allowing a rich perspective of the material to more learners.
There are, however, some more substantial concerns when it comes to these new learning opportunities. One is the question of how we can best ensure that individuals receiving information in these spaces are, in fact, entitled to it. This is where digital identity comes in—ensuring that those who are entitled to teach and take the courses are actually the ones doing so. In much the same way as this technology is used to prevent identity theft, it can be used to protect against fraud and cheating in the educational setting. As a disclosure, digital identity is a solution offered by my company, as well as others.
As the rise in remote learning technology signified a major turning point for education a decade ago, today represents an opportune moment for people of all ages to access learning in a way that mirrors in-person experiences. As the industry advances, it may hold untold possibilities for equipping the next generation with the training, skills and education they need—wherever they are.