Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
Metavers and teachin

This is a lesson they will remember! Each week, 263 students from Stanford University meet for an entire semester to study communication. So far, nothing really original. Except that their meeting point was not in an 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 home, in conjunction with the university’s “Virtual Human Interaction Lab” research laboratory.

Those concerned seem delighted with the experience. Interviewed by the Stanford newspaper, Allisson, who now specializes in issues of accessibility thanks to technology, specifies: ”  I thought that virtual reality was only used for video games, but this technology also makes it possible to create experiences empathic, putting themselves 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 computer science and communications student.

A booming sector

This is the first teaching experiment in the metaverse on this scale. Probably not the last. The sector is in turmoil on this subject, and more and more establishments are beginning to think very seriously about the educational applications that these technologies allow.

The reflection is not new. Olivier Lamirault, director of innovation and educational technologies at EM Normandie, remembers the first attempts at courses on “Second Life”, one of the first metaverses launched… in 2003 (and which is also preparing its come -back). “ We then offered courses in English and in business creation, which took place 100% in this virtual world. It had worked well, but there were still many technological constraints at the time. The computers were much less powerful and the environments less secure than today ,” he recalls.

Visualize, interact and immerse yourself

So, what pedagogical utility for these virtual open worlds? In the eyes of Yann Verchier, head of the Center for Educational Innovation at the University of Technology of Troyes, the metaverse could become a valuable tool for learning: “ In science, virtual reality makes it possible to visualize phenomena. It’s quite fabulous, a future doctor can open organs, immerse himself inside an organism… These exercises already exist, but the person is alone. The metaverse is the next step, namely also strengthening social relations! The doctor can thus interact with other health professionals in the simulation.  We learn the gesture, but also to work in a collective.

Necessary safeguards

To transform the test, however, safeguards will be needed. Starting with a reflection on what it makes sense to transpose into this virtual world. “ Some lessons were carried out remotely in the same way as face-to-face. Result: the students noticed a deterioration in the quality of the course. An excellent play will not necessarily make a good film if it is filmed as it is! On the contrary, we must ask ourselves what we can imagine in the metaverse that we could not achieve in real  life, ”points out Jean-Charles Cailliez, vice-president of innovation at the Catholic University of Lille. He insists: hybridization does not mean “all digital”, but a complementarity between educational innovation and more traditional courses.

Metaverse College, the first school exclusively dedicated to learning

Metaverse College, the first school exclusively dedicated to learning

Hence the need to properly frame things upstream for institutions, before launching headlong into the metaverse. “ It really all depends on the type of work! If it’s a brainstorm to create a group marketing strategy, getting together on 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, in the context of a practical work, a manipulation, an experience, a physical interaction, there is a real contribution  ”, notes Jean-Philippe Rennard, dean of the faculty of Grenoble Ecole de Management .

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