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“Metaversity,” as educators have coined it, is changing the world our graduates will enter and is already changing our teaching models. Since the primary role of higher education is to prepare students with the knowledge, skills and real-world experiences needed to succeed in the job market and in their lives, we must not only accept the transformation brought about by the metaverse, education must play a leading role.
Industry partners are preparing themselves and their businesses for the metaverse, with Rebecca Wallace, executive vice president of corporate strategy at WPP, saying that “our metaverse strategy will bring creativity and community to our customers and this is where the creator economy will be centered and brand authenticity will be defined. Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, said at a recent hospitality conference that “the metaverse is our future and it must be embraced.” Across the industry and in their actions, business and technology leaders are making it clear that the Metaverse is a very valuable and non-negotiable part of our future.
As we look outside of education and into professional fields, we see the metaverse changing the rules. In sports, for example, the filling of seats in stadiums is no longer the only measure of financial success or fan loyalty. No matter what sport you play or watch, the Metaverse has an impact: the NBA, for example, is creating unique Metaverse experiences by streaming virtual reality (VR) games and selling collectable NFTs to fans through NBA Top Shot to bring fans closer to the game.
To keep pace with these changes, higher education must prepare students to adapt to new approaches and be comfortable with the new technologies that are transforming the industry.
At the NYU School of Professional Studies, undergraduate and graduate students looking to gain experience in the Metaverse consult with the Philadelphia 76ers to design an interactive fan experience in the Metaverse to help expand their market international fans. They also work with small, black-owned businesses to create a metaverse strategy and partner with cities from all disciplines to develop proof-of-concept projects that can then be prototyped in the metaverse. Additionally, they are working with the concurrent capabilities available in the metaverse to understand how cities can better plan for potential climate changes.
These experiences give students first-hand experience in solving a real-world challenge – one of many facing businesses today. Additionally, at the NY School of Professional Studies, we are adjusting our approach to teaching and preparing students for the Metaverse by providing opportunities for them to learn about VR technology with the launch of a new VR Lab.
At Fisk University, virtual technology is being used by faculty to provide human biology students with unprecedented examinations of the human heart. For example, professors can reach into the chest cavity of a virtual corpse, extract a human heart, and deliver it to a student. The student can feel the weight of the heart, examine it, and even enlarge the organ until it is 8 feet tall. The whole class can take steps inside the heart, where they see and touch the walls of the ventricle. At Stanford, a “Virtual People: The influence of VR” course has been modified for the Metaverse, allowing students to learn by doing and experiment and create apps that previous students could only read, therapeutic medicine to sports training and the teaching of empathy.
All told, the metaverse makes a difference in student engagement, especially in learning ability and speed, as well as accessibility and affordability.
Early results show that the metaverse and associated technologies are helping to address some of the age-old challenges in education, as well as more recent concerns raised by the pandemic, such as knowledge retention. Morehouse College piloted teaching courses in the Metaverse in the spring of 2021 and saw more than 10% improvement in GPAs, essay grades and presentation grades, according to Muhsinah Morris, director of Morehouse in the Metaverse. Attendance rates have also increased. “No student has dropped out of any of our metaverse courses. None.” Building on this early success, Morehouse now offers fifteen courses in the Metaverse across a range of disciplines.
The impact of the metaverse on education is not isolated, nor limited to higher education. A recent PwC study found that VR learners could be trained four times faster than classroom learners and were four times more focused than basic online learners. This result almost perfectly matches the data of pilots who use simulation to learn to fly an aircraft compared to the training they received in the classroom. The PWC study also found that, in enterprises, VR learning can be more cost effective at scale than classroom learning or e-learning.
The Metaverse can also address the accessibility and cost issues currently plaguing higher education, made more evident in the past two years thanks to the pandemic, and meet the growing demand for online courses. According to McKinsey, between 2012 and 2019, the number of hybrid and distance learning students at traditional universities increased by 36%, while the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this growth by an additional 92%. By offering courses through “metaversities,” students constrained by physical conditions, scheduling restrictions, or financial barriers may be able to earn degrees they would not otherwise have access to.
Educators: Find out
As educators, we recognize that we are at a very early stage of understanding and adoption, with several very important issues to address, such as confidentiality. Although the metaverse has a lot of potential to disrupt higher education as we know it, it is still in its infancy. Concerns about student privacy and possibly the commercialization of education are certainly valid, and higher education has a responsibility to not only teach, test, and research the metaverse, but to guide it. and influence it to ensure that we develop a safe and fair environment. , and accessible space.
The mission of higher education is to prepare students for the future of work and successful careers, but it also aims to equip them with the tools to solve problems, lead, and improve the lives of all.
In these uncertain times, we face countless challenges. Let’s use the new and untested tools given to us to define our path forward, to learn alongside our students, and to prepare ourselves and our students for all that lies ahead.
Angie Kamath is Harvey J. Stedman Dean of the NYU School of Professional Studies, which recently launched the Metaverse Collaborative at NYU SPS. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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