Can the meta-verse improve learning? New search finds promise

Metaverset is the latest technological frontier where Facebook (now called Meta) and other tech giants race to build a parallel social and professional universe in virtual and augmented reality. And many schools and universities are wondering: will this new kingdom work for education?

A new study co-authored by one of the world’s leading researchers on edtech efficiency, Richard Mayer, provides some answers to that question.

Mayer is ranked as the most productive educational psychologist in the world by the journal Contemporary Educational Psychology, and he has a highly cited theory of multimedia learning.

And his latest scientific article, published last week, describes an experiment designed to test the hypothesis that a virtual reality lesson would be more effective than the same lesson delivered via standard video.

The study took place with about 100 middle school students on a short “virtual study trip” to learn about climate science. Some students experienced the outing wearing a VR headset, while others watched the same material in standard video on a computer screen.

The researchers assumed that students who saw in virtual reality would report greater joy and interest and thus perform better in testing the hardware.

The results were promising for those who built the metaverse. Students in the VR group performed significantly better on an immediate post-test and on a test given later in the semester. And the VR group reported “higher ratings of participation, interest and enjoyment,” according to the report.

“The results support a better understanding of how creating unique learning experiences that feel genuine (ie, creating a high level of presence) through immersive technology can affect learning across different affective and cognitive processes, including joy and interest,” he writes. Mayer and colleagues.

The VR trip as part of the experience was short – only about nine minutes. “Virtual excursion shows that even short virtual learning experiences can influence long-term outcomes by creating greater interest in the topic,” the researchers say.

The newspaper noted a clear logistical advantage for virtual excursions compared to getting on a bus for a personal excursion. “Virtual excursions make it possible to experience things that are too expensive, dangerous or impossible in the real world,” he says. The experiment did not address the difference in educational value between a real-world excursion and a virtual one.

Gregory A. Heiberger, associate dean of academics and student success at South Dakota State University, said the results are encouraging for those who want to teach VR when VR hardware is well-designed for use in an application.

“Students need to be motivated. They need to be excited. They need to be focused. And it gives them a different experience, ”which promotes it, he says. “It’s a really well-designed experience that says, ‘This is a game-changer. It’s revolutionary. This is different.’

However, he pointed out that there are bigger questions about the broader effort to build a metaverse. “I do not want to look like I have pink glasses,” he says. “There are many concerns about the future of the meta – verse for society, too [social] interaction, for data protection “and other issues.

But he says that for programs like nursing, pharmacy and medicine, virtual reality shows promise of teaching certain skills, as part of a larger curriculum that also includes practical, personal learning. .

“If we can do things in metaversity [a university in the metaverse] or a more tactile or hands-on VR experience than a 2D simulation, “he adds,” then it’s powerful. “

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