Education has always been a determining factor in a child’s lifelong economic, social, and emotional growth. However, across the world, there is a large gap in learning. The World Bank explains that disparity in education isn’t solely based on socioeconomic factors such as wealth or where a person lives. There are subgroups within the same groups or factors that are vulnerable to gaps in learning opportunities. To adequately address these discrepancies, initiatives must be sensitive to the complexities of inequality, adjust approaches according to those differences, and teach at the right level to help students master foundational skills.
This can be challenging when countries have varying access to resources like teachers, classrooms, and learning materials. However, two of the biggest buzzwords in technology can help — the metaverse and artificial intelligence (AI). These multi-billion-dollar industries have use cases that expand learning opportunities to make way for improved quality, affordability, and accessibility. Here’s how the metaverse and AI are shaping the future of education.
How can AI be used in education?
AI simulates human intelligence in computer processes, enabling it to perform complex tasks with minimal human intervention. It depends on robust datasets to improve its problem-solving capacities. Because of this, AI reshapes the future by assisting and advancing cybersecurity, communication, and other business applications. It can also offer solutions like diagnosing health conditions, predicting market movements, optimizing smart supply chains, and offering real-time maintenance for industrial equipment.
Education is yet another industry where AI is making immense strides with its use cases. In particular, AI can provide personalized learning experiences. This is integral to ensuring that children learn at their own pace, according to their abilities and limitations. By analyzing a student’s strengths and weaknesses, AI can use adaptive learning algorithms to adjust content according to each student’s level. They can also provide recommended content and resources to help them improve. These benefits ensure that delays in a child’s learning do not compound as they progress to the next levels of their education.
How can the metaverse be used in education?
Many initial metaverse experiences run on flat screens, like PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. Roblox, an early metaverse platform still widely used today, has many mobile players. These metaverse spaces are sometimes used as virtual classrooms where students and teachers interact. It makes education more accessible for both parties since they can attend classes using a mobile device.
Today, the metaverse also uses augmented and virtual reality to create an immersive space mimicking real-life environments. In business and colleges, it’s used to recreate the feeling of in-person interactions when meetings need to be held virtually. It has also been used for entertainment, providing an elevated experience for gaming.
At Axon Park, we combine the best of bost applications by enabling remote learning in virtual campuses powered by 3D game engines. This allows students to learn from anywhere in the world within a collaborative and social environment. Our post on education and the metaverse shows how the metaverse helps students learn better by doing. They can see simulations of scientific processes or witness reenactments of historical events they would otherwise only be able to read about.
Students can also participate in hands-on learning, taking remote classes one step further with tactile participation. This application is already being used at the secondary level, especially for institutions that provide hands-on training, such as those for medical programs. For example, Fisk University already began using a virtual reality lab for its pre-med courses. This lab provides a more affordable alternative to cadavers so students can continue to have high-quality immersive training in anatomy at lower costs. With elevated visual representations, students can have a sensory-oriented learning experience that helps them enjoy, process, and retain knowledge much better. Most importantly, with metaverse technologies, they can share these experiences as group activities to foster collaborative learning.
It isn’t just the education of young people and students that the metaverse can assist with. For instance, the metaverse can help with the education of adults around topics of public health and fitness. Many of the non-transferable diseases humans suffer, like cancer, are heavily driven by the built environment. For example, the 2021 SEACAA article “The Link Between Poverty and Obesity” notes that individuals in lower income brackets are more likely to be overweight, as they have less access to resources that can help them exercise and eat healthier more regularly. How would that work in real terms? People engaging in virtual workouts could leverage the metaverse as part of their balanced fitness journey. Of course, this would need to be mixed with a degree of real-world interaction. For example, people with mobility issues and obesity could see their physician and undertake a medical weight loss course, consisting of prescriptions and a general weight loss program, but pair it with workouts and peer support within the metaverse. Through the latter, a person could learn new processes, exercises and strategies, not only from a crib sheet but through seeing them and interacting in the metaverse, but also benefit from the real-world strategies that combat their issues.
What issues in education can the metaverse and AI address?
Today, metaverse technologies and AI are still limited mainly to those in developed countries. Those in developing countries have less access to the devices and networks needed to access educational resources on these platforms. However, with the direction that the metaverse and AI are going, they have the potential to break down persistent impediments in education.
Action Education details global barriers to education including the lack of government funding for education, extreme poverty, and discrimination due to sex, religion, race, or disability often prevent children from learning. By keeping children across the world away from platforms, these barriers serve to stunt their overall development in life.
Children can better cope with varying circumstances in a future where the infrastructure for emerging technologies like the metaverse and AI is prevalent. Students restricted from local institutions due to discrimination can be connected with schools abroad. Universities offering critical STEM courses like medicine or robotics can train pupils even when lacking funds for real-life specimens or materials. In addition, children with limited mobility due to physical disabilities or geographical limitations can form friendships and join classroom activities in virtual spaces. In a future where AI and metaverse technologies for education flourish, children worldwide can overcome historical barriers to maximize their learning.
Education is a fundamental right that every child should be granted. Despite the limitations that emerging technologies like the metaverse and AI have right now, they have the potential to foster equality in education in the future.