Online Education

Metaverse and teaching: gimmick or real pedagogical innovation?

This is a lesson they will remember! Each week, 263 students from Stanford University meet for an entire semester to study communication. Nothing really original yet. Except that their meeting place was not in the amphitheater, but in the metaverse! Week after week, armed with a virtual reality headset, these students worked and discussed, immersed in a parallel world from their homes, in conjunction with the university’s research laboratory “Virtual Human Interaction Lab”.

Those involved seem to be excited about the experience. In an interview with the Stanford newspaper, Allisson, who now specializes in issues of accessibility through technology, said: “ I thought virtual reality was only used for video games, but this technology also allows you to create empathetic experiences by putting yourself in other people’s shoes. » “There’s nothing better to learn than to experience it yourself, and that’s exactly what we did in this class»agrees Hana Tadesse, a student of computer science and communication.

A booming sector

This is the first teaching experiment in metaversion on this scale. Probably not the last. The sector is abuzz on this topic and more and more businesses are starting to think very seriously about the learning applications that these technologies enable.

Metaverse is very interesting for higher education! We’re already in an ultra-connected world with countless video meetings, lots of remote work, and now hybrid studios. The goal for schools is to go beyond gadgets and integrate human, interactive and fun into teaching. “, notes Anne-Charlotte Monneret, director of the EdTech France association, which brings together 400 young innovative shooters in the field of education.

Reflection is not new. Olivier Lamirault, director of innovation and educational technology at EM Normandie, recalls the first attempts at “Second Life” courses, one of the first metaverses launched… in 2003 (and which is also preparing to make a comeback). ” Subsequently, we offered English and business creation courses, which took place 100% in this virtual world. It worked well, but there were still many technological limitations at the time. Computers were much less powerful and environments less secure than today “, he recalls.

The experiment lasted two years, but it remained in the minds of the school, where we are actively considering re-investing in the metaverse without quite knowing which one to choose.

Visualize, interact and immerse yourself

So what is the pedagogical tool for these virtual open worlds? In the eyes of Yann Verchier, head of the Center for Educational Innovation at Troyes University of Technology, the metaverse could become a valuable learning tool: “ In science, virtual reality makes it possible to visualize phenomena. It is absolutely wonderful, the future doctor can open organs, dive into the organism… These exercises already exist, but the person is alone. The metaverse is the next step, including the strengthening of social relationships! The doctor can thus interact with other medical professionals in the simulation. We learn through gestures, but also through teamwork.

This question of exchange is at the heart of the educational metaverse. The goal: to turn online courses into a collective experience. “ The pandemic accelerated this reflection. In distance learning, the number one reason for dropping out is feelings of isolation. With these virtual worlds, we aim to offer more collaboration and sharing. Pupils experience it in an almost physical way “, says Christelle Lison, a teacher and researcher at the University of Sherbrooke who specializes in innovation in education. Exactly in the meta-version, one follows the course surrounded by one’s friends in the “classroom”.

Schools that start out see other benefits. “ These virtual worlds allow for extremely strong immersion. The relationship between teacher and student will be disturbed, much more horizontal “, enthuses Laurence Gosse, Scientific Director of Iscom. He sees another, very specific benefit: “ We will be able to transpose our students into different universes, one can very well imagine the experience in a museum in New York, then in the Louvre. It’s a dive mine. The school’s fifth year is also working on a project: imagine the school of tomorrow in these immersive worlds.

Necessary guarantees

However, guarantees will be needed to transform the test. Starting with a consideration of what makes sense to transpose into this virtual world. ” Some classes were conducted remotely in the same way as face-to-face. Result: students noticed a deterioration in the quality of the course. A great game doesn’t necessarily mean a good movie if it’s made the way it is! On the contrary, we must ask ourselves what we can imagine in the metaverse that we could not actually achieve “, points out Jean-Charles Cailliez, Vice-President for Innovation at the Catholic University of Lille. He insists that hybridization does not mean “all digital” but complementarity between educational innovation and more traditional courses.

Metaverse College, the first school dedicated exclusively to teaching Web 3.DR

Hence the need for a proper framework of things for institutions before jumping headlong into the metaverse. ” It really depends on the type of work! If it’s brainstorming to create a group marketing strategy, meeting in teams or in the metaverse is the same for me! And again on Teams, we will perceive more non-verbal signals with the camera. On the other hand, there is real benefit within TP, manipulation, experience, physical interaction says Jean-Philippe Rennard, dean of the faculty at Grenoble Ecole de Management.

And learn everything about metaversion in twenty years? ” I think that all this will be integrated into a single reality. Spaces and moments of training will naturally blend, without distinguishing between physical and virtual students, perhaps in the form of a hologram, an avatar? “, he tries to imagine a teacher-researcher. Until then, it will be up to schools and universities to find the right balance to really help education, beyond the buzz or gadget effect!

Three new schools in the starting blocks

These three new devices offer training from the beginning of the school year, safely and in a meta version.

> Metaverse College

On the program of this new school: a bachelor’s degree in “metaverse project manager” from the beginning of the academic year 2022. After that, students will be able to continue in specialized master’s programs. “ A large part of the training will take place face-to-face and only a part in the meta version. We need gradual acculturation! “, emphasizes Ridouan Abagri, its director.

> Kwark Academy

This new establishment, dedicated to technical and business professions, has an originality: the courses here will run 100% in a meta version, when the students – mostly work-study students – are not doing business. ” From September 2022, we aim for 150 students by opening Bachelor’s to Bachelor’s +5 courses, especially Bachelor’s and Master’s in new technologies “, explains Alban Miconnet, CEO.

> Paris School of Technology & Business

Visits to the metaverse are also planned in this “hybrid” school. “You have to live the metaverse in immersion to identify its full potential!” » explains Armand Derhy, director. However, most of the lessons will take place in “real life”. Bachelor’s and master’s degree studies can be continued alternately.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button