What is the Metaverse?

How could the Metaverse change UK Education?

In the last month, there has been a lot of talk about the Metaverse, since  Facebook rebranded to Meta as Mark Zuckerberg wants to be known for building the Metaverse. With the technology to make the Metaverse is in development, we can ask, what is it? And what will it do? ,. This blog will define the Metaverse, answer some common misconceptions and ask how it could change UK education.

What is the Metaverse?

It is a shared online virtual 3D world or worlds in which you are a projection of yourself. You would put on a Virtual Reality Headset to enter the virtual universe. The universe would be a 3-Dimensional digital world like we can see in our day-to-day lives where we’d and interact with other users’ avatars; effectively, it is a digital world with a digital version of oneself.

The uses could be endless and, just like the internet it could change how the world functions. and change the world. One concept for work is the ability to work in a virtual office once entering the world; you are in a holographic office building with a holographic desk and laptop, all from the comfort of home.

As the idea and concept of the Metaverse develop, the practical uses will grow. If it were to be released today, the primary services would be games that create a virtual world on a smaller scale and with a smaller use. For example, Minecraft, a game in which you can build worlds together as an avatar, can be played on a Virtual reality headset is already being played by millions.

Common Misconceptions

  • There will be only one Metaverse 

Many different companies are in the race to be the first to develop a working Metaverse. Big tech giants Facebook, Epic Games and Microsoft are all developing technology to create a Metaverse. Most likely, there will be many different Metaverses’ that can all be accessed from one platform.

  • Virtual Reality never kicked off. Why will this?

The best way to tackle this misconception is to look at the lightbulb. It took many years for the lightbulb to go from invention to implementation due to the world’s infrastructure not being ready. The Metaverse is going into a market already created through social media, gaming, and virtual reality headset; the infrastructure is already there.

  • Metaverse will only be used for gaming.

If it were available today, the main uses would be gaming with other services limited. But there is a massive shift in the tech industry with companies focusing on developing Metaverse technology, creating many future uses.

How could it change UK education?

Like the way the Metaverse will change office working, we could see similar change in education. Remote learning could become the norm more so than now, post covid world, with students attending virtual schools as an avatar. It can allow students to participate in any school globally and not limited by location and making virtual friends.

The Metaverse will be interactive; schools’ lessons become very visual and interactive, with teachers having resources of holograms to use. In the Metaverse, teachers can give hands-on classes that would be a health and safety risk in the real world. For example, teachers could allow students to conduct science experiments using virtual chemicals which are not safe to handle in person, or visit the inside of a nuclear reactor.

Being in a virtual digital world can allow schools to upload lessons and review lessons. Students can have access to the previous classes to rewatch topics they did not absorb the first time. School leaders could review teachers’ without being in the lesson allowing more detailed analysis and offline review.

What are the risks to students?

The considerable risk to students is the lack of face-to-face social interactions. Even with avatars matching students’ facial expressions, there are critical social skills and interactions that the Metaverse cannot replace. In addition, it is easier for students to hide behind screens. Children might find it harder to express feelings in the real world when most social interactions are with virtual avatars.

Schools need to think about safeguarding risks in the Metaverse. How can they filter and monitor what students are accessing in the Metaverse? What are the security risks of data or security breaches? How will the Metaverse affect online bullying? Schools will need to know the answers before the Metaverse can become part of education.

Concluding thoughts

It is still currently some years away. A lot of the ideas of how it will work are presently just concepts. We will find out whether they are feasible, but with leading technology companies looking to concentrate on Metaverse technology, these concepts might become a reality quicker than we all think.

We will see a slight change regarding education with Metaverse being used as an interactive lesson for students to learn skills hard in the classroom. But there could be much more significant changes if teaching in the Metaverse is cost-effective and accessible to all.

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