Digital technologies have transformed so many areas of education in recent decades. From pocket calculators to laptops, tablets, and the video conferencing tools that helped learning shift online during the pandemic, technology plays a crucial role in how people teach and learn. Metaverse technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) promise to create new ways for teachers to inspire students. In fact, they’re already being used to do just that.
The metaverse is the next evolution of the internet. It spans a range of technologies, including VR headsets that transport you to whole new environments, AR glasses that will one day project computer-generated images onto the world around you, and mixed reality (MR) experiences that blend both physical and virtual environments. These technologies create a more immersive, 3D experience where you feel like you are right there with another person or in another place.
Technologies that create a sense of presence and shared space offer new ways for teachers to do what they do best – teach. While it is still early days for these technologies, we’re already seeing promising signs of the impact they can have. A recent report by PwC found that 40% of VR learners are more confident in applying what they’ve been taught, and 150% more engaged during classes. The XR Association (XRA) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) found that 77% of educators believe immersive technologies ignite curiosity and improve engagement in class.
In a randomized control study of the VR mathematics program Prisms, students learning in VR had test scores 11% higher than those in the control group. The study also found an increase in students’ confidence, engagement and ability to describe mathematical concepts. And Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, which has been an early adopter of VR, found that students who learned in VR had an average final test score of 85, versus 78 in person and 81 for traditional online methods. They also found an uplift in student attendance and engagement.
We want more and more teachers and students to benefit from these technologies. That’s why, as students return for the new academic year, we’re announcing a new partnership program to help college students in the US learn using VR and testing more ways to make it easier for Meta Quest users to find educational resources in the Meta Quest store.
US University Program
We are collaborating with 15 universities across the US who are actively embracing immersive learning. The universities are each conducting classroom sessions and exercises in virtual reality to examine how immersive technologies can contribute to the future of education. They include:
- Stanford University, which is using the BodySwaps app to teach its Business School students soft skills, like how to have a difficult conversation or how to nail an interview.
- Arizona State University, which is using VR so students can practice having conversations in a new language in different virtual environments.
- New Mexico State University, which is using VR across a range of subjects, including criminal justice where students investigate virtual crime scenes.
- University of Iowa, which is using VR to help business students with soft skills training.
- Purdue Global, which will be training nurses in virtual simulations of hospitals.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham, which is teaching business courses in their virtual campus in partnership with VictoryXR.
- Nova Southern University, which is using VR to teach its first year medical students about organs in the human body.
- Miami Dade College, which has created a virtual campus and is teaching VR-enhanced courses in areas like music, architecture, research, chemistry and biology.
- Morehouse College, which has established a digital twin campus to teach classes across a range of subjects including chemistry, biology, business, and journalism.
Education Shelves in Meta Quest Store
There are a range of education-related apps available for Meta Quest across an extensive range of topics including science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM), history, language and more. To help parents, teachers and students more easily find age-appropriate education content in the Meta Quest store as they return to school, we are looking at new ways to help spotlight the apps available and are testing dedicated shelves in the store over this period.
Growing Momentum for VR Education Tools in Europe
We’re also seeing encouraging signs of educators embracing metaverse technologies in Europe. In Italy, as part of national education investments, schools can integrate immersive experiences into their lessons with digital and virtual technologies. Also in Italy, University of Camerino will host its first course conducted entirely in the metaverse in the coming term, with both students and the tutor joining the classes via VR headsets.
Europe is also home to a growing sector of companies developing education apps and software for metaverse technologies.
- In Germany and Austria, GoStudent is revolutionizing language learning through virtual reality. With their foreign language classes, GoVR, students can transport themselves to virtual learning environments that simulate real-life settings. These environments enable students to interact live with native-speaking tutors and classmates from across the country.
- In Italy, Itaca Education works with teachers to develop virtual learning experiences for subjects like natural sciences and physics. This way, students can immerse themselves in science laboratories filled with equipment that most schools would never be able to afford.
- And in the UK, Noun Town is an award-winning education app using gameplay to remove the grind from learning new languages, including Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Chinese.
We remain hugely optimistic about the impact metaverse technologies can have – and are already having – on education. But for everyone to benefit from the incredible opportunities these technologies open up, governments and other institutions need to embrace them and utilize them across public education systems. Above all, it is skilled teachers who know best how to inspire their students. Getting this equipment into their hands is the necessary starting point. If we, collectively, get this right, the opportunities to inspire students in new and exciting ways are endless.