Two years ago, a mass transition of workers to a remote mode began around the world. And if many office workers perceived such a regime as a boon, then the educational industry faced a real systemic crisis.
Schoolchildren and students began to complain about a sharp drop in the quality of education, and lecturers and seminarians, even with access to videoconferencing systems, faced a number of problems – from regular service failures to difficulties in conducting practical classes. It became clear that the future belongs to online learning, but only if the technological barriers here are overcome.
EdTech startups skillfully took advantage of this situation, starting not only to offer ready-made educational online products, but also to rapidly master new technologies: machine learning to form students’ educational trajectories, AR and VR for deeper immersion in the material.
5G for transmission of a video stream without failures. In the first pandemic year, the Russian EdTech market grew, according to various estimates, by 25–50%, with many companies showing threefold growth. The most promising, in my opinion, turned out to be vitality technologies – it is with their help that you can build an educational metauniverse.
Metaverses and reality
The concept of the metaverse is not new: in science fiction novels, characters live both in the real world and in the virtual world, breaking the usual boundaries and doing with the help of an avatar what is inaccessible to them in ordinary life. One of the realizations of such a metaverse is the famous “Avatar” by James Cameron.
But fantasy very quickly becomes a reality, gradually moving into a practical area – thanks to virtual and augmented reality technologies. The video game industry turned out to be a pioneer here: in their own universes of Roblox and Epic Games, people lead a full life – earn money, communicate and even meet.
The pandemic has only spurred this process: interaction in the digital world is becoming more familiar than in the physical, the boundaries between real and virtual are blurring faster. Think of Gorillaz performing, or last year’s Lil Naps X Roblox concert with over 30 million viewers, Lil Miquel’s virtual model with millions of followers on Instagram*, or KFC’s Colonel Sanders.
Some rudiments of the metaverse are even appearing in the commercial sector. Realtors, for example, are already organizing tours for potential buyers of objects under construction, and in online stores you can study the equipment not only in pictures, but also “live” – in the process of work.
It was the penetration of the metaverses into the commercial segment that attracted the attention of large corporations. So, in November 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that from now on Facebook* (already under a new name) will be engaged in the creation of the metaverse, and Microsoft has adapted VR products for intercorporate communications. It became clear: the metaverses are something more than an ordinary soap bubble.
Returning to the educational topic, we note that metauniverses can bring two new qualities to this area, the lack of which is felt in the process of full-time education, and is especially acute at a distance. The first is visibility. In virtual or augmented reality, the acquired knowledge can be immediately put into practice.
such laboratory courses become available that it was impossible to think about just yesterday. Work in production, experiments with complex chemical compounds, practicing acquired skills in many areas (starting with practical driving in driving schools) – all this can be implemented today.
The second quality is interactivity. The depth of immersion in the learning process in virtual and augmented reality is much deeper than in a regular lesson. VR / AR technologies allow not only to perceive the material, but also to “experience” it, and emotion, as you know, speeds up the process of gaining knowledge.
Finally, the presence effect that virtual reality creates allows schoolchildren and students to take full-fledged training online, regardless of their specialization and place of residence. This is especially true at a time of global upheaval, when many people do not have the opportunity to receive a decent full-time education.
However, not everything is so smooth
Any innovation goes a long way from the first prototype to mass implementation. The metaverse is similar to the social networks of the early 2000s: there are first developments, there is hype around the topic, but it may take 10-15 years to form the final vision and popularize this direction among ordinary users (we observed a similar picture with the advent of 5G and 3D technologies on the market).
printing and artificial intelligence). Although this is rather an advantage for those companies that are going to enter a new market. Virtual reality app stores do not yet have products for the educational sector, which means that this area promises commercial success for the pioneers. Moreover, educational organizations continue to look for new ways to effectively transfer knowledge.