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“Metaversity” as coined by educators is changing the world our graduates will enter and is already changing our teaching models. Given that the primary mission of higher education is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience they need to succeed in the world of work and in their lives, we need not just embrace the transformation that is advanced through the metaverse, but education must also play a leading role.
Industry partners are preparing themselves and their companies for the Metaverse, with Rebecca Wallace, EVP of Corporate Strategy at WPP, arguing that “our Metaverse strategy will bring the creativity and community to our customers and will be the hub and brand of the creator economy Authenticity is defined.” Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, stated at a recent hospitality conference that “the Metaverse is our future and needs to be embraced”. Across industries and through their actions, business and technology leaders are making it clear that the metaverse is an extremely valuable and non-negotiable part of our future.
If we look beyond education and across careers, we see that the metaverse is changing the rules. In sports, for example, stadium occupancy is no longer the sole measure of financial success or fan loyalty. No matter what sport you play or watch, the Metaverse has an impact: The NBA, for example, creates unique Metaverse experiences by broadcasting games in virtual reality (VR) and selling collectible NFTs to fans via NBA Top Shot to bring fans closer at the game.
To keep up 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 interested in gaining experience in the Metaverse consult with the Philadelphia 76ers to develop an interactive fan experience in the Metaverse to expand their international fan market. They also work with small Black-owned businesses to develop a Metaverse strategy and work with cities across disciplines to develop proof-of-concept projects that can then be prototyped in the Metaverse. Additionally, they work with simultaneous capabilities available in the Metaverse to understand how cities can best plan for potential climate change.
These experiments give students first-hand experience in solving a real-world challenge—one of many that organizations face today. Additionally, at the NY School of Professional Studies, we are adapting our approach to teaching and preparing students for the Metaverse by giving them the opportunity to experience VR technology with the launch of a new VR Lab.
At Fisk University, virtual technology is being used by professors to give human biology students never-before-possible studies of the human heart. For example, professors can reach into the chest cavity of a virtual corpse, pull out a human heart, and give it to a student. The student can feel the weight of the heart, examine it, and even enlarge the organ until it is eight feet tall. The whole class can take steps inside the heart where they can see and touch the walls of the ventricle. At Stanford, a Virtual Humans: The Impact of VR course was modified for the Metaverse, allowing students to learn through hands-on application and develop applications that previous students could only read about, from therapeutic medicine to athletic training to Teaching Empathy.
All in all, the Metaverse makes a difference in student engagement, particularly in terms of ability and speed of learning, as well as accessibility and affordability.
Early results show that the metaverse and related technologies are helping to address some of the age-old challenges in education, as well as newer concerns raised by the pandemic, such as: B. the retention of knowledge. Morehouse College piloted courses in the Metaverse in spring 2021 and saw a more than 10% improvement in GPAs, essay grades, and presentation grades, according to Muhsinah Morris, director of Morehouse in the Metaverse. The number of visitors also increased. “No student dropped out of any of our Metaverse courses. None.” Based on that early success, Morehouse now offers fifteen courses in the Metaverse across a range of disciplines.
The impact that the metaverse is having on education is neither isolated nor limited to higher education. A recent study by PwC found that VR learners can be trained four times faster than classroom learners and are four times more focused than basic remote e-learners. This result agrees almost perfectly with data from pilots using simulations to learn how to fly an airplane compared to the training they received in the classroom. The PWC study also found that VR learning can be more cost-effective in large organizations than classroom learning or e-learning.
The Metaverse can also address the accessibility and cost issues currently plaguing higher education, which have become more apparent over the past two years thanks to the pandemic, and meet the growing demand for online courses. According to McKinsey, the number of hybrid and distance-only students at traditional universities increased by 36% between 2012 and 2019, while the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this growth by another 92%. By providing courses on “metaversities,” students who are limited by physical conditions, time constraints, or financial obstacles may be able to earn credentials they otherwise would not have access to.
Educator: Educate yourself
As educators we recognize that we are at a very early stage of understanding and acceptance with several extremely important issues to be addressed such as: B. data protection. While the metaverse has a lot of potential to disrupt higher education as we know it, it’s still in its infancy. Concerns about student privacy and the possible commercialization of education are certainly valid, and higher education has a responsibility not only to teach, test and explore the metaverse, but also to direct and influence it to ensure that we develop a safe and equitable development , and accessible space.
The mission of higher education is to prepare students for future careers and successful careers, but it is also intended to give them the tools to problem-solve, lead, and improve life for all.
In these uncertain times, we face countless challenges. Let’s use the new and untested tools we’ve been given to define our path forward, to learn together with our students, and to prepare ourselves and our students for whatever lies ahead.
Angie Kamath is the Harvey J. Stedman Dean of the NYU School of Professional Studies, which recently launched the Metaverse Collaboration at NYU SPS. you can follow her LinkedIn and Twitter.
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