However, the unique challenges of the education sector witnessed unforeseen issues. Concerns around privacy were raised from accidental capturing of background events and pupils feeling awkward on camera. Consequently, educators delivered many lessons in the "Dark" with all student cameras switched off, culminating in an unsatisfactory learning experience for the pupils and teachers. Teachers witnessed focus and attention issues due to surrounding screen notifications and everyday distractions at home. In addition, a feeling of disconnection between the pupils has been prominent. Everyone wants schools to resume as usual because children learn best within a social setting, and whilst this event was successful for some, it was not for all. However, we also know this event may not be unique, unfortunately. So how could this critical digital experience evolve to work better next time? Or even be a better way of doing parts of how we teach now, especially when we need to collaborate. The Metaverse offers a possible solution to these problems with its alternate digital reality built in the secure and encrypted environment of the blockchain. Here people socialise, work and play, forming virtual cities, neighbourhoods and economies that mimic many aspects of real life. However, these worlds built for (But not limited by) Virtual Reality offer some interesting subtle differences from screen and camera to communicate.
To begin with, it is your avatar others see, not your camera recording. With a VR headset, you are entirely immersed (Full peripheral vision and sound) in any given space. There are no distractions or privacy issues from cameras; teachers can see which avatar is looking at them and paying attention, like in a real classroom. We suggest this holds some exciting capabilities that education should investigate.
What could a Metaverse Class be? Imagine sitting in the comfort and safety of your home and putting on a VR headset that transports you to your school classroom on the Metaverse. All your friends in avatar form are in the room and sitting across from you in the usual groups. Today's topic is volcanos, the teacher flicks the switch on the wall, and outside the classroom window, you can see Mount Vesuvius start to erupt. It's clear everyone's avatar is engaged in the topic; they are watching the event unfold together through the virtual windows whilst the teacher explains what is happening underneath the volcano and so on. Finally, the lesson ends, and the teacher reminds the class they can access a session recording on the virtual school library (No privacy issues with recording). Each student will receive the lesson transcript in their message boxes, with all visual assets. You decide to stay behind after class with a few friends to watch a lecture from a famous Volcanologist; the room transforms into a theatre, and the lights dim. Future educational institutions could partially deliver teaching through virtual campuses and owned classrooms, so entry is controlled and all data is secure. The immersive power of VR and the lack of distractions could be a much better way to teach many topics. This capability is accessible through a standard browser which can give any pupil all the benefits of the avatar, just not the VR immersion.
It is the dawn of Web 3.0, and the rise of the Metaverse will see a massive expansion in VR as a standard interface for gaming and web browsing; however, access will work just as well through a browser. This approach could be accessible to all as the Metaverse expands all our horizons. David Judge, Executive Creative Director, Space Zero.
Author: David Judge, Executive Creative Director, Space Zero
The Executive Creative Director is a Brand Experience Specialist. He has created award-winning experiences for global brands such as Adidas, Etisalat, Virgin, ADCB, The All Blacks and Manchester City. The design of space as a business experience has taken a significant leap forward in its ability to engage, support, inspire and entertain people pre, during and post-visit. His work with Space Zero delivers these "Experience strategies" from the world of brand design to the education sector when envisaging future environments for learning. Over the last four years, he has led the strategic development of the school experience strategies for Wellington College China and Bangkok, The British Council, and Chatsworth Schools, to name a few.