Metavers and educating: a trick or an actual 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 meta version! 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 Human Human Interaction Lab.

Those affected seem excited about this experience. In an interview with Stanford Allisson, who now specializes in accessibility issues through technology, he said: I thought that virtual reality is only used in video games, but this technology also allows you to create empathic experiences by getting into other people’s skin. » “There’s nothing better to learn than to experience it first hand, and that’s exactly what we did in this class.»agrees Hana Tadesse, a student of computer science and communication.

A thriving sector

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

Metaversion is very interesting for higher education! We are already in an ultra-connected world with countless video encounters, a lot of remote work and now hybrid studios. The goal for schools is to go beyond gadgets and thus integrate human, interactive and fun into teaching. “, Notes Anne-Charlotte Monneret, director of EdTech France, which brings together 400 young innovative shooters in education.

The reflection is not new. Olivier Lamirault, Director of Innovation and Education Technologies at EM Normandy, recalls the first attempts at the Second Life courses, one of the first metaversions launched … in 2003 (and who is also preparing for his return). ” Then we offered English and business 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 the environment less secure than today He recalls.

The experiment lasted two years, but remained in the heads of the school, where we are actively considering re-investing the metaversion, while we do not yet know 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, metaversion could become a valuable learning tool: ” In science, virtual reality allows you to visualize phenomena. It’s absolutely wonderful, the future doctor can open the organs, immerse himself in the body … These exercises already exist, but man is alone. Metaversion is the next step, even the strengthening of social relations! The doctor can thus interact with other health professionals in the simulation. We learn gestures, but also work in a team.

This exchange issue is at the heart of the educational meta-version. Objective: to turn online courses into a collective experience. “ The pandemic accelerated this reflection. In distance education, feelings of isolation are the number one reason for leaving school. We strive to offer more collaboration and sharing with these virtual worlds. Students experience it almost in a physical way Says Christelle Lison, a teacher and researcher at the University of Sherbrooke who specializes in educational innovation. Exactly in the meta version, the course is watched surrounded by his friends in a “classroom”.

Beginning schools see additional benefits. “ These virtual worlds allow for extremely strong immersion. The relationship between teacher and student will be disrupted, much more horizontal “Says Laurence Gosse, Iscom’s Scientific Director. He sees another, very specific advantage: ” 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 mine dive. The fifth year of school 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 by thinking about what it makes sense to transpose into this virtual world. ” Some lessons took place remotely in the same way as full-time. Result: Students experienced a deterioration in course quality. 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 a meta-universe that we could not really achieve. “, Points out Jean-Charles Cailliez, Vice President of Innovation, Catholic University of Lille. He insists that hybridization does not mean “everything digital”, but the complementarity between educational innovation and more traditional courses.

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

Therefore, it is necessary to properly frame things towards the institutions before they go headlong into the meta-version. ” It very much depends on the type of work! If it’s brainstorming to create a group marketing strategy, meeting in teams or in a metaverse is the same for me! And again at Teams we will perceive more non-verbal signals with the camera. On the other hand, in terms of practical work, manipulation, experience, physical interaction, there is a real benefit says Jean-Philippe Rennard, Dean of the Faculty of Grenoble Ecole de Management.

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

Three new schools in the starting blocks

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

> Metaverse College

On the program of this new school: 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. “ Much of the training will be face-to-face and only part in the meta-version. We need gradual acculturation! “, Emphasizes Ridouan Abagri, its director.

> Kwark Academy

This new operation, dedicated to the technical and business professions, has originality: the courses here will run 100% in metaversion when students – mostly employment students – will not run a business. ” Since September 2022, we have been targeting 150 students by opening bachelor’s to bachelor’s +5 courses, especially bachelor’s and master’s in new technologies Alban Miconnet, CEO.

> Paris School of Technology & Business

Metaversion visits are also planned in this “hybrid” school. “You must survive the metaversion in immersion to identify its full potential!” » explains Armand Derhy, director. However, most lessons will take place in “real life”. Bachelor’s and master’s degree studies can be taken alternately.

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