The Metaverse for Learning and Education


 

The Metaverse for Learning and Education is part of The Metaverse Series and aims to help practitioners to understand the value and implications of the metaverse, and related metaverse technologies such as virtual reality technology, in the evolving delivery of learning and education. The Metaverse for Learning and Education is aimed primarily at practitioners in the learning and education field, and those who set policy and commission work. It may also be of interest to parents, managers, other interested professionals, students, researchers, and lay readers.

 

Chapter 1 The Metaverse for Learning and Education

The main difficulty with the metaverse is that it is a slippery concept with few boundaries. Since the early 2020s the term has expanded and grown in use, encompassing a shifting array of technologies and practices. This chapter explores the idea of the Metaverse for learning and education, and considers how it might be delineated, adopted and adapted. It begins by exploring what counts as education in the 21st century and locating the metaverse in relation to this. The chapter then explores the challenges of learning in the metaverse, issues of embodiment and some of the current claims and concerns about the metaverse for learning and education.

 

Table 1.1 Education, Learning and training in the metaverse

 

Definition

Example

Related article

Education in the metaverse

The process of receiving knowledge or instruction for a particular purpose

The use of immersive journalism to educate wide audiences

(de la Peña et al., 2010)

Learning in the metaverse

The process of acquiring, understanding and using knowledge

Students as co-creators of learning experiences in virtual worlds

(Mårell-Olsson, 2019)

Training in the metaverse

Developing specific skills or behaviours

Safety training using virtual reality

(Sacks et al., 2013)

 

Chapter 2 Approaches to Learning

This chapter provides a detailed examination of the different approaches to learning that are relevant to the metaverse. It begins by discussing learning theories and explores how these may or may not enable effective learning for students. The second section of the chapter examines different types of teaching, from traditional lecture-based learning through to more learner-centred approaches such as problem-based learning and collaborative learning. The final section of the chapter suggests particular modes of learning that may easily be adapted to for the metaverse.

 

Table 2.1 Learning theories

 


The theory

Key Concepts

Challenges for learning in the metaverse

 

Behavioural

 

·      We need specific goals and clear objectives if we are to learn

·     The learning experience should be task orientated

1) The focus is on incentives – which do not motivate everyone

2) The assumption is that having passed the test you can do the job

 

Cognitive

 

·        We each have our own cognitive structure which must be accommodated

·        We can only learn new information in relation to what we already know

1) Overemphasis on learning styles at the expense of content

2) Tendency to categorise people into ‘types’ of learners

 

 

Humanistic

 

·        The learning needs to be controlled by us as the learners not the tutor

·        Emphasis must be on our freedom to choose the approach

1) Too much freedom can be disabling

2) People are not always sure what they want or need to learn

 

Developmental

 

·       Learning needs to be part of our progressive development

·        We need to see knowledge acquisition as relevant to where we are and what we want

1) Overemphasis on experiential approaches to learning at the expense of efficiency

2) Tendency to spend time reflecting on mistakes rather than looking forward

 

Critical Awareness

 

·      We all have our values, including tutors. Learning is not value free

·      Learning always takes place in a social and cultural context

1) Difficult to manage power relations between teacher and learner to ensure ‘real’ equality

2) Can be seen as overly politicized

 

Chapter 3 Applied Models for Learning

The main argument of this chapter is that whilst the concept of the metaverse is relatively new in university and college learning spaces the metaverse and related technology has been in use since the late 1990s and came to prominence with the growth and use of virtual worlds from 2003 onwards. This chapter begins by exploring the shifts from earlier versions to current versions of the metaverse. It then suggests different approaches to learning that might be used and explores learning in practice in the metaverse. The approaches vary from early versions such as computer-supported collaborative learning and action learning, through to more recent practices such as games and gamification and the use of problem-based learning in virtual worlds.

 

Table 3.1 Learning online and in the metaverse

 

Form of learning

Original definitions

Current examples and findings

Computer-supported collaborative learning

Initially a branch of the learning sciences concerned with studying how people can learn together with the help of computers.

Jovanović and Milosavljević (2022) developed a high-level software architecture and design for a metaverse platform named VoRtex. VoRtex is primarily designed to support collaborative learning activities with the virtual environment.

Action learning

Action Learning was designed to help organisations to develop through problem-solving by asking questions to clarify the exact nature of the problem, reflecting and identifying possible solutions, and only then taking action. 

Ellis and Phelps (2000) created a collaborative action learning model which is described as a vehicle for staff development and change management so that staff make the transition to online teachers or learning facilitators.

Problem-orientated learning

 

 

This form of learning focuses on the idea that when asking students to solve problems, some knowledge is more foundational than other knowledge and should necessarily be taught first.

Gao et al (2015) investigated problem-oriented learning in online learning environments. The study compared the impact of knowledge map representation with traditional hierarchical representation. Participants who used the knowledge map representation had better problem-solving performance.

Project-based learning

 

Project-based learning is predominately task orientated and the project is often set by the tutor.

Hou et al (2023) constructed a pedagogical model for teaching and learning activities of a university’s hospitality and real-estate programme. The study found that the VR-aided and project-based pedagogy model is novel and effective in delivering green building education.

Design-based research

 

This is an approach which blends research with theory-driven design of learning environments.

Hoadley and Campos (2022) argue that both research and design can independently produce empirically derived knowledge and discuss how research (DBR) methods contribute various types of usable knowledge that can not only produce better online interventions but also transform people and systems.

Situated Cognition

Situated cognition is where learners are immersed in activities and content that mirrors the situation they are trying to learn about.

Chylinski et al (2020) used situated cognition theories and developed a framework of Augmented Reality Marketing experiences to synthesize current research and applications.

Cognitive Load Theory

 

This theory suggests that because short-term memory is limited, learning experiences should be designed to reduce working memory ‘load’ in order to promote schema acquisition.

Barta et al (2023) undertook research that examined the effects that augmented reality had on cognitive variables related to cognitive load. The results showed that AR reduces cognitive dissonance through its effects on perceived similarity and confusion caused by overchoice. Furthermore, lower cognitive load enhanced shopping purchase intentions, resulting in greater willingness to pay more for the product.

Actor Network Theory

This focuses on exploring both networks, and the impact between networks and actors, and the controversies inherent in these.

Söderholm et al. (2019) analyzed the roles policies – so-called network management – throughout the entire technological development processes. The paper provides an analytical framework that addresses the changing roles of network management at the interface between various phases of the technological development process.

Games and Gamification

This is the application of game techniques to non-game environments and activities. However, serious games are those whose main purpose is to educate users; they have a clear educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement.

Thomas et al (2023)conducted interviews with experienced gamification designers from different industries and parts of the world. The findings indicate that gamification is influenced by positive psychology and the metaverse.

Virtual World learning

Learning in Virtual Worlds means students can interact and learn in three-dimensional graphical online environments and can work on specifically tailored or self-developed projects.

Wang et al., (2020) synthesized the research findings of the impact of virtual world learning on language learning. The meta-analysis showed significant overall linguistic and affective gains.

Problem-based Learning in virtual worlds

This is the use of problem-based learning - where students work in small teams to analyse and manage a problem presented to them, in a virtual world such as Second Life or Unity3D where they can work collaboratively.

 Davis et al., (2016) evaluated a simulated clinical practice opportunity using web-based platforms. The findings indicated that students became more aware of the role of the other healthcare professionals involved and found the Virtual Worlds to be realistic and useful, which in turn contributed to their engagement with the scenario provided.

 

Chapter 4 Rethinking pedagogy for the metaverse

This chapter will consider the impact of advances in technology on pedagogy and the increasing use of learning online. It begins by examining the stances and experiences of learners in the metaverse, drawing on both older and more recent research. The importance of the stances model of learning is that it offers an alternative view of student learning from the standardised model of learning styles. The chapter then explores some of the particular areas of value when using the metaverse, including the value of the visual, the value of learning spaces, the value of openness, and the value of experiential opportunities. The final section of the chapter examines the broader impact of the metaverse on higher education and suggests that pedagogy needs to be re-examined in the light of the metaverse.

 

Chapter 5 Tech, platforms and wearables in the postdigital metaverse

This chapter begins by exploring the context of learning in the metaverse for a postdigital age. The postdigital is a term that is seen as both confusing and controversial, but it is a useful concept for explaining the impact of the digital on human and non-human actors. The second section of the chapter examines the tech and the platforms. Whilst some of these have been in use since the 1990s, many of these remain in use 25 years later, but there are now newer and more flexible options available. The final section presents new practices such as wearable devices and lifelogging.

 

Table 5.1 Perceptions of the postdigital across subject and disciplines (Savin-Baden, 2024)

 

Subject/discipline

Explanation

Example

Quantum computing

The use of quantum bits to be in more than one state at a time, enabling the possibility of parallel calculation

Carmody, (2010)

Art

Artwork that points to flaws in digital processes, rather than seeking perfection

Cascone, (2000)

Architecture

Architecture which necessarily combines and acknowledges the synthesis between the virtual and the real, as well as the biological.

Spiller, (2009)

Performance art

Creating body modifications

Crawford, (2012)

Geography

Exploration of contemporary urban spaces and cities as Code/Spaces

Kitchin & Dodge, (2014)

Education

Taking a stance against oppressive forms of education and encouraging learning through critical pedagogy

Giroux, (2005)

Postgraduate Learning for Healthcare Professionals

Recognition that instead of standardised learning, that the promises of technology can be redeemed through pedagogical approaches that create sufficient space and agency for students to engage

Aitken, (2021)

Postdigital story telling

An argument for metamodernism deemed to be a new form of creative modality, where the divide between the digital and the non-digital are no longer in opposition, no longer binary.

Jordan, (2019)

 

 

Chapter 6 Pros and Cons of learning in the metaverse

Learning in the metaverse is challenging for many staff in higher education. As mentioned in chapter 1 what counts as the metaverse and how learning is to be managed within it still remains troublesome. This chapter examines a number of advantages of learning in the metaverse such as the opportunity to be inclusive towards different approaches to learning, the value of affordances, peer-to-peer learning and genres of participation. The second section of the chapter explores some of the challenges of learning in the metaverse. These challenges include digital inequalities and surveillance, the question of virtue ethics, power and control, and mis/placed digital identities.

 

Chapter 7 Learning assemblages for the metaverse

This chapter examines the idea of learning assemblages, which reflects changing views of how learning might be seen in the metaverse. It begins by presenting the notion of learning assemblages and illustrates why this is important to the metaverse. The chapter then explores issues that are related to the idea of assemblages, beginning with context and collision collapse, and digital métissage. The latter half of the chapter discusses ways of rethinking place, space and presence, suggesting that these concepts are currently defined too narrowly and need to be re-examined in light of future forms of learning in the metaverse.

 

Table 7.1 Dimensions of place and the metaverse

 

 

Physical space

Metaverse space

Places as location

A space where an activity is located such as a skills laboratory

A virtual laboratory in a virtual world used to practise skills.

Place as series of locales

University campus where social interaction takes place

Created interactive spaces such as gaming environments or virtual world social spaces.

Place as a sense of place

Disciplinary space which is a unique community and landscape

A disciplinary space in a virtual world created specifically for disciplines for example engineering, nurses, sociologists.


 Reflection and Conclusion

Learning and education in the metaverse offers opportunities to re-examine and possibly reconstruct our disciplinary and institutional pedagogies. Such opportunities might occur by examining conceptions of learning and teaching, by shifting from notions of generalizable learning styles to identity located learning stances, as mentioned in Chapter 4, and by embracing the idea of spatial ecology in the context of higher education. Spatial ecology is defined here as the creation of balance between and across spaces in higher education, so that account is taken of not merely knowledge, content, conceptions and acquisition but also of ontology, of values and beliefs, uncertainty and complexity. The idea of spatial ecology captures the idea that it is recognized that staff and students operate on diverse trajectories and when they collide new learning spaces in the metaverse emerge and often unexpected learning occurs. For example, differences in staff and students’ stances towards particular concepts such as family, climate change, oppression and gender within a virtual world prompt staff and students to consider the diverse spaces in which they live, work and learn and the impact of their life world on their learning. It is through discussion and exploration that notions of translation, shifting spaces and spaces of representation along with diverse and difficult territorial positions are recognised. Yet in order to create innovative and challenging metaverse spaces, it is important to realise that a tentative learning balance exists between confusion and transformation. As learners and teachers we are not apolitical, acultural or disembodied beings but we are often disturbed and uncomfortable; it is important that we have a sense of how our presuppositions affect and have an impact on those with whom we interact in the metaverse.

 

 


No comments:

Post a Comment