The metaverse is a very vague concept at the moment, but it has created a lot of waves in this digital and technologically-advanced world. So much so that colleges and universities seem to have already jumped on the bandwagon of the metaverse. For instance, they now offer augmented in-person and remote video learning features like virtual and mixed reality. So far, around 10 US colleges and universities have partnered with Meta (the US technology company) and Engage (an Irish VR platform). As a result, they are creating metaversity, a 3D digital version of their campuses. Therefore, students can engage in learning with the help of immersive VR headsets. Here are six benefits the metaverse provides to colleges and universities –
1. Makes Educational Resources More Affordable
Many colleges today lack the resources necessary for learning as they cannot afford them due to budget constraints. But, the metaverse can avoid such limitations. For instance, Fisk University, based in Nashville, Tennessee, has been unable to buy cadavers because of high costs and maintenance issues. Therefore, the university modified its pre-med program with VR cadavers. Besides being more affordable, the VR cadavers are easy to maintain and don’t degrade. In addition, it gives students almost the same learning experience as they might get from actual cadavers, even more so. Plus, universities can add additional features like surgical procedures and comparative learning (between a human and animal body) over time.
2.Improves Student Performance
The most significant benefit of virtual training is that it offers a visual demonstration of concepts with step-by-step instructions. Thus, students can learn while performing tasks, increasing their engagement in learning anything. For example, Morehouse College in Atlanta piloted a metaversity with courses like world history, biology, and chemistry. And the college discovered that students’ academic performance increased due to the VR classes. In addition, VR learning boosted student satisfaction and engagement compared to traditional and online learning methods.
3. Simulates Real-Life Interactions
Virtual learning like that through Zoom allows only a single conversation. But, metaverse technology can enable people to interact more naturally by bridging the gap between real-life and virtual interactions. It can overcome the drawbacks of the internet and video meeting tools.
For instance, the academic staff and students of the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania use a virtual meeting space called Gather. Gather simulates real-life interactions. The participants can create avatars and navigate a virtual map representing the physical environment of their campus. Gather allows users to move smoothly between conversations either as listeners or speakers. Unlike Zoom, they aren’t constricted to only one conversation.
Furthermore, Gather accommodates around 200 students and can support multiple conversations at once. It has six virtual spaces, and small groups can create sub-groups to work on different tasks or engage in conversation.
4. Allows Experimentations That Are Dangerous in Real-Life
Sometimes learning in real-world environments can be risky, especially in chemical experiments and flying airplanes. In such scenarios, VR headsets and other metaverse-related technologies can play a significant role. They can create immersive simulations of real-world environments. And even ones that are hard to create in the real world.
For example, Fisk University offers a planned in-person history course in which students visit historically important locations via VR headsets. It includes places like the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; and the National Mall in Washington.
5. Can Reach Remote Students
In 2015, around 18% of men and 20% of women aged 25 and older in rural areas had at least a bachelor’s degree compared with the 32% and 33%, respectively, of the ones living in urban areas in the US. The statistics show a considerable gap in higher education between rural and urban areas.
But metaverse technologies can help eliminate that gap. They can make educational resources more accessible to remote students.
6. Can Attract the Younger Generation
Children and young adults dominate well-known metaverse spaces like those in the gaming sector. The young demographic is more experience-driven and sees immense learning opportunities in the metaverse. The metaverse is exciting and fun for them. The unique experiences of metaverse technologies (like VR) appeal to them. Hence, universities and colleges are using it to attract them. For instance, the higher-ups at the Southwestern Oregon Community College believe its metaversity might increase enrollment.