How Will the Higher Education Industry Adopt the Metaverse?
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The term “Metaverse” describes a virtual world where users interact with one another through digital representations of themselves. Roblox and Fortnite are examples of how the Metaverse is developing as a gaming platform. What if, in addition to the existing virtual reality (VR) capabilities like playing games and going to virtual concerts, people used the Metaverse as a place to go to school and learn?

Many universities and colleges are just beginning to investigate. VictoryXR, an AR/VR content provider for schools and universities, recently announced that it would be working with 10 universities to launch “Metaversities” in the United States this fall. 

The digital duplicates of the campuses of the participating schools will be made available to the students (whether they are on campus or learning remotely). Each participant will receive a Quest 2 virtual reality headset throughout the course. Virtual reality headsets will mail out to students participating in distance learning courses. 

On-campus students at some schools taking part will be able to purchase headsets and use them to attend classes in the Metaverse. Students can access a 2D version of their digital campus to explore on standard desktop computers. The courses will deliver in a multi-student format, similar to what one would experience on a traditional campus.

If you are interested in building an education or learning platform in the Metaverse, you must choose the right metaverse development company to meet your business needs.

The benefits of a more stable and long-lasting online platform for universities are numerous.

The emotional toll college life is taking was the subject of a recent blog post. A Lumina Foundation and Gallup survey found that 32% of undergraduates currently enrolled have considered taking time off from their degree program, either for a semester or longer, within the past six months.

When asked why they considered dropping out, 76 percent of undergraduates said it was due to emotional stress.

Students of all ages who do not accustom to online learning were affected by this abrupt shift. Those students include people with learning disabilities, those who perform and thrive on physical interaction, and students who may have unique or complicated housing situations where the classroom is the only place to concentrate or study.

In the wake of the 2020 pandemic, colleges quickly adopted Zoom as a learning format. Still, the solution was panned for being unimaginative and stressful, hardly befitting the ever-increasing cost of higher education. According to the Lumina/Gallup poll, things have not gotten better.

Facing the possibility that future pandemic outbreaks will force them to cancel on-campus classes, universities are beginning to accept the need to develop a more permanent alternative to Zoom lectures. The Metaverse could accomplish this as an imaginative and immersive alternative to campus life during lockdowns.

Ways to be explored for higher education in Metaverse

The educational potential of the Metaverse is enormous. More students can consider more schools thanks to innovations like virtual college tours. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds and students of color who lack the resources to travel for a tour benefit greatly from these visits. An online experience replaced the traditional college trip during the pandemic. These tours are beginning to appear in the Metaverse, giving students a taste of campus life without going there.

Some educational institutions are already investigating the feasibility of creating metaverse-enabled pedagogical environments. When it comes to healthcare, architecture, behavioral research, climate change, and more, the University of Miami in the United States has you covered. Future doctors can use the university’s XR program to practice administering anesthetics in a sterile environment.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when physical schools and colleges shut down, higher education institutes used new technologies to expand access and boost their reach. Numerous educational institutions have investigated the potential of metaverses, and associated extended-reality (XR) approaches. There is already evidence that the Metaverse can be explored for use in higher education, thanks to the unexpectedly positive results achieved by educators and technological tools during the pandemic. New technologies will coexist on a 5G setting’s single platform, which promises to revolutionize the educational landscape.

There are many benefits to taking college classes in the Metaverse, such as 3D visual learning, more real interactivity, and easier access for faraway students. But there are also potential problems. Recent studies have examined the Metaverse’s ethical, social, and practical implications and potential dangers like privacy and security breaches. 

Concerning the five difficulties:

Expenditure of both time and money

There are situations where the Metaverse can use as a low-cost educational alternative. For instance, a cadaver lab needs a lot of room and regular upkeep and can cost several million dollars to construct. Fisk University’s introduction of a virtual cadaver lab has lowered the cost of obtaining a solid scientific education.

Universities incur additional expenses due to purchasing licenses for VR content, building digital twin campuses, purchasing VR headsets, and other investment necessities.

Colleges and universities can spend as much as $100,000 on a digital twin campus and as little as $20,000 on a metaverse course license. A subscription to VictoryXR’s Metaverse costs $200 per year per student.

In addition, there is the expense of a virtual reality headset. For metaversities created by Meta and VictoryXR, Meta is donating a small number of its virtual reality headsets (the Meta Quest 2) at no cost. The Meta Quest 2 headset prices range from $399.99 for the 128GB version to $599.99 for the 256GB version. Keeping many headsets charged and operational adds time and money to the business.

Institutions of higher learning must also invest time and money to prepare their faculty to teach in the Metaverse. Even more, time will require to deliver metaverse courses, many of which will need all-new digital materials.

Most educators need help to create their metaverse teaching materials, which can involve merging videos, still images, and audio with text and interactivity elements into an immersive online experience.

2) Issues of data privacy, security, and safety

Business models of companies developing metaverse technologies rely on collecting users’ detailed personal data. For instance, Facebook accounts require using Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets.

Location, physical characteristics, and movement of students, as well as voice recordings, are all types of sensitive information that the headsets can gather. Meta has yet to promise to keep that data private or limit the access advertisers might have to it.

At the same time, Meta is developing a high-end VR headset with enhanced features called Project Cambria. Sensors in the device will allow a virtual avatar to maintain eye contact and make facial expressions that mirror the user’s eye movements and face. Marketers can use that information to understand user attention better and deliver more relevant ads.

Knowing they are being watched by the university and a major technology company could discourage professors and students from openly contributing to classroom discussions.

Physical movement, heart rate, pupil size, eye-opening, and even emotional cues are all data points that the virtual environment and its equipment can collect from the user.

Metaverse cyberattacks could result in real-world injuries. By stimulating the user’s senses, metaverse interfaces can convince the user’s brain that it is in a new setting. Threat actors attacking VR systems can manipulate the actions of users inside the experience, leading them to potentially dangerous places like the top of a flight of stairs.

The Metaverse can also expose students to inappropriate content. As an illustration, Roblox has introduced Roblox Education to introduce its 3D, interactive, virtual environments into traditional and digital classrooms alike. Roblox says it has strong protections to keep everyone safe, but no protections are perfect, and its Metaverse involves user-generated content and a chat feature, which can infiltrate by predators or people posting pornography or other illegal material.

3) Rural areas don’t have easy access to modern facilities

Many metaverse applications, such as 3D videos, are bandwidth-intensive. There is a lack of resources for users to stream high-quality metaverse content, especially in rural areas. For instance, in the United States, 97% of the urban population has access to a high-speed connection, while only 65% of the rural population and 60% of the tribal population does.

4) Taking on new difficulties in a different setting

In order to construct and launch a metaversity, a school’s pedagogical practices will need to undergo significant transformation. Students in the Metaverse, for instance, aren’t passive observers but rather take part in various virtual reality games and other experiences.

5) Intensifying Prejudices

Students conceptions of past events and present-day scientific discoveries are shaped by the gender, ethnicity, and ideology stereotypes that are unfortunately pervasive in textbooks across disciplines. These biases can slow or halt efforts to achieve gender parity or other forms of justice. The consequences of biases may magnify in media-rich settings. Movies are much more effective than textbooks at molding students’ worldviews. Future years may see the increased significance of metaverse content. If universities are going to use the Metaverse to its fullest potential, administrators, teachers, and students will have to tackle issues like privacy protection, teacher preparation, and national investment in broadband networks.

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