May 15, 2022

How metaverse can significantly enhance learning experiences of working professionals

The Metaverse has the power to break barriers in encouraging information sharing across organizations and sectors through virtual breakout rooms, more accessible tech expos and always-on demo stalls.

During the initial period, right after its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic may have briefly threatened to ground various academic activities all over the world. While it had a fair amount of success for a short duration, various educational institutions and entities across the country had begun to leverage technologies that enable online classes, which helped sustain the ever-so-critical education system. 

Yes, the existing technologies and constantly-evolving online practices have managed to fill the gap to the extent that they could; however, the lack of optimal interaction and collaboration during the classroom sessions has continued to affect the efficiency of those sessions, and thereby the education system itself.

Addressing the critical gaps between the virtual world and the real world

As prime facilitators of education, many of us were exposed to the thus far unforeseen limitations of a fully online education system, and consequently of the holy grail of technology in education. The gaps between the virtual world and the real world in the education system gradually became more discernible for us — and this is one of the critical issues that the Metaverse aims to address, as it promises to provide us with a rich ecosystem to connect, collaborate, and communicate in virtual classrooms.

The Metaverse — virtual avatars, immersive video, spatial audio, and more 

The substantial multimodal interaction that the Metaverse will aim to enable through virtual avatars, immersive video, and spatial audio can help augment one's learning experience. Today, when travel in several industry sectors is limited due to safety and budget constraints, the Metaverse provides us with a platform to even share a cup of tea with our teams located in various corners of the world.

What’s in “the Metaverse” for learning and the education system?

A fully immersive experience can help accelerate the pace of learning and achieve better retention of even some complex concepts. The adoption of technology can also ease the cost of procuring and maintaining expensive equipment for training purposes. One can even learn firefighting techniques, without undertaking life threatening risks. Budding doctors can now practice complex surgeries on dummies and aim for perfection.

Another interesting development to follow is the ongoing research into integrating haptics with the Metaverse. A haptic rendering engine combined with the speech, video, and mixed reality capabilities of the technology can take learning experience many notches higher. New dimensions to simulations can be achieved in automotive, electronics, and biomedical engineering domains, fabric design, material synthesis, and fine arts as well. 

How can working professionals potentially benefit from the Metaverse?

Professionals from several industries and sectors stand to benefit in various ways — configure embedded devices, set up complex network topologies, create virtual economies, and operate sophisticated automotive equipment — all remotely, without dislocation of people or damage to the resources. 

Today, the software world boasts of and promotes a rich open source community through collaboration of code and simulations; however, this has not evolved much in other sectors. The Metaverse has the power to break barriers in encouraging information sharing across organizations and sectors through virtual breakout rooms, more accessible tech expos and always-on demo stalls.

The Metaverse and work integrated learning programmes 

Given the nature of modern professions, and the acquired reputation of Indian professionals in their respective roles, continual learning and higher educational qualifications are necessary tools for the nation to succeed within, and compete globally. With the Metaverse, mature learners in corporate learning and work integrated learning programmes will likely be able to manage their own learning experiences in an effective manner, and further excel in their contributions and thereby their careers.

Talking about India, it has a large and qualified professional workforce, which must and will continue to grow in size, complexity, and quality. With a large spectrum of industry sectors and an even larger spectrum of diversity in human resources, the Metaverse has the potential to not only enable equity and accessibility of upskilling and higher education programs for working professionals, but also help democratize knowledge dissemination. 

Author - Prof. Anita Ramachandran

Prof. Anita Ramachandran heads the Computer Science and Information Systems group of Work Integrated Learning Programmes (WILP) at BITS Pilani.

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