Metaverse:  The Future of Education Beyond Frontiers from the Real to the Virtual World   

Metaverse Future Education

A professor from Chula’s Faculty of Education explains how Metaverse can help students transcend limitations regarding learning found in the world of reality and upgrade learning methods when used discriminately and appropriately.

The situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has had the effect of hastening the speed of the world of the future over to the present.  As we have seen from what has transpired over the past two years in the education circles where teachers, students, and parents have all had to adjust themselves to full-scale online classes.  While the new normal way of life progresses, attention is drawn to Metaverse, which was recently unveiled on social media platforms.  Metaverse promises a virtual reality technology anticipated to tremendously affect the way people communicate and interact, especially in the areas of education.      

Professor Dr. Jaitip Na Songkhla of the Department of Educational Technology and Communications, Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University discussed her views and concerns on the future of education when Metaverse enters the scene connecting the real and virtual worlds.  

Educational Technology and Communications Professor
Professor Dr. Jaitip Na Songkhla

Metaverse:  Beyond the learning frontier

According to Prof. Dr. Jaitip, Metaverse is a basic structure that transforms the concept of social communications and learning while extending the learner’s experience into a world of reality in ways they may never have or may not be able of perceiving through the network of virtual worlds.  

“Within the Metaverse, people can create their own avatars or “manifestations” with appearances they are satisfied with.  These avatars interact with their environment, perceive objects and atmospheres through graphics with an environmental dimension” she explained the connection between the self and this virtual social life which can help enrich many experiences that the actual world cannot provide or fully portray.  

“Metaverse turns abstractions that are difficult to perceive and understand into virtual images that can be perceived and understood.  Subjects like the sciences, social sciences, and the environment will come alive and be easier to comprehend and new forms of creative thinking can ensue.” 

 In Metaverse, the learner can travel and perform tasks that cannot be done in an actual physical condition, for example, a scientific experiment that involves risks or going on a school trip in some distant location too far and arduous a task in reality, such as an adventure in the Amazon or a diving trip to view the Coral Coast in Fiji.   Metaverse is also able to replicate a virtual reality and create a model situation for the learner to practice basic skills through what is known as Mastery Learning like entering a space environment, visiting other planets, or receiving practical training with world-renowned specialists.  In some cases, an aspiring fashion designer can open a boutique that enables foreign buyers to meet (virtually) with the seller and be able to (virtually) try on the clothes before actually placing their order.

Metaverse for education

Professor Dr. Jaitip also invites us to imagine how Metaverse could further expand the frontiers of knowledge and turn the learning experience into something more fun and exciting.  

“We can travel or communicate with people a great distance away, for example, we can have a virtual classroom in Thailand, but with the same atmosphere as if the class were in a foreign country.  It could be Europe, the U.S., or anywhere, and no matter how far away that could be a model community for joint learning across the world.”

Will schools be necessary for the future?

If learning can take place anywhere and if all knowledge can be obtained virtually, would schools or educational institutions still be needed? 

Professor Dr. Jaitip explained that “human beings require the use of their five senses in their learning and some of these senses such as taste, smell and sound cannot be provided.  Of course, the graphic-generated atmosphere cannot be tasted. It is impossible to create a replication that is 100% accurate, and therefore, cannot replace all forms of learning in the actual world.  As such Metaverse is only an additional option and cannot replace learning in schools unless an ecological perception can be created that responds to all the five senses.”

metaverse for future school

Differentiating between “real and virtual”

The world of the Metaverse is very close to reality and the persons existing there may also be virtual representations.  Those who dwell in the virtual world should always be mindful of the fact that the items or individuals they see and interact with are not “the real ones” as seen in virtual reality.  

 “According to certain studies, Metaverse users lacking judgment and the ability to discern may easily fall prey to the allure or distorted perceptions of these virtual images by mistaking them for reality.  In the virtual world, one can be anything they wish, and can also craft the image they wish to perceive which can also easily lead to propaganda” cautions Prof. Dr. Jaitip.


How does one prepare for the transition to Metaverse?

At present, there are sandbox spaces in the United States that have adopted the Metaverse technology.  Some websites and operators now offer Metaverse services such as Spatial and Metaverse Studio or Koji & Metaverse.  This means that the virtual world is moving very close to reality.

 “We should be open to new forms of technology and keep up with the latest information.  Metaverse isn’t something to fear, but it can potentially be a double-edged sword and for that, we should make sure we understand how it functions and utilizes it rationally – making sure we can distinguish between what is real and what might merely be the appearance of reality. “

In the age of disruption and ever-changing world, it remains unclear how much Metaverse, which is infiltrating our current space, would alter the New Normal landscape, and our lives.  Prof. Dr. Jaitip emphasized, however, that the most important thing in education is to prepare learners and equip them with the ability to keep up with the latest technology and how to live their lives in both the virtual world as well as that of reality.

Chula is the place to discover one’s true individuality and the years I spent here were most enjoyable.

Rossukhon Kongket Alumni, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University

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