Life before the internet was dramatically different. To share information, people used pen and paper, then the telegraph and then telephone. One day, even the internet may become as antiquated as writing letters seems to us now.
The reason is the metaverse.
The metaverse takes interactions with any type of content to the next level.
From what I can see, learning professionals will benefit from this transition the most—all the benefits that the metaverse brings shine brightest when applied to educational programs.
The most important factor in learning programs is the efficacy of training. Remote learning has seen a huge surge because of the pandemic, but it was mostly based on video conferencing, which is not that efficient. What the metaverse offers is a fully immersive experience with endless possibilities and unprecedented efficacy.According to one study, learners who trained using VR had 275% more confidence about putting what they had learned into practice.
That’s why we started building training programs in the metaverse, and here are some lessons we learned in the process.
1. Metaverse Technical Specifications Are Harder To Build
There are three main roles involved in the process of building apps for training in the metaverse:
• A subject matter expert
• A learning methods expert
• A technical implementation team
As we are a technical team, we will mostly focus on communication issues between the second and third steps in the hierarchy. What we discovered is that communication issues come up to almost the same degree whether the team is in-house or not, even if the tech team is fully integrated with “the customer”—who, in this case, is the “learning expert.” Actually, “in-house” teams didn’t show many advantages. That’s why our customers are so open to outsourcing, even though the “resource price advantage” isn’t that big anymore.
No matter whether the expert is in-house or subcontracted, VR experiences have too much visual content to be easily described or specified, especially when team members work remotely.
Therefore, development budgets often grow beyond the initial quote because of frequent change requests.
Here is a real example. We built a VR solution for occupational training, which incorporated a cooking course. For the visual part, we learned it was important to specify details such as how hands should be positioned while holding vegetables to cut them right. If such tiny (at first sight) details were not discussed beforehand, it was always possible that the visuals would need to be altered later. This leads to extra time and expense. But who thinks of discussing how to hold a potato?
This issue isn’t exclusive to the metaverse domain. Any other graphics-based industry has been dealing with it for years. The remedy has been to use agile processes and put budget control and project ownership on the same side as the technical team. Build fully transparent teams, making lines of division between you and your contractors as narrow as possible. Anything “less integrated,” especially “fixed-price assignments,” will just slow everything down and raise costs.
2. Rising Technical Requirements
The majority of businesses that consider implementing VR or building solutions in the metaverse already understand that, technically, VR’s capabilities are impressive. It is already possible to build lifelike experiences and simulate various processes in detail.
Years ago, VR was just stereoscopic paintings, and now we can learn how to repair heavy machinery or perform surgeries inside simulations. The requirements for VR solutions are rising steeply and sometimes even exceed current capabilities.
Something like that happened on one of our projects some time ago. VR technologies were developing rapidly, and when our development team started the project, Samsung Gear VR appeared on the market. Thus, the requirements immediately changed and we had to figure out how to integrate Gear VR into the ecosystem.
3. There Are Out-Of-The-Box Solutions Already, But They Are Inconvenient
Yes, training in the metaverse is already available, but are you ready for all the inconveniences?
Workforce training, meetups and conferences can be performed with Spatial and similar tools, but usually moving is clumsy, interacting with objects is inconvenient and it’s impossible to customize solutions to your own needs. I personally would describe such solutions as raw—they don’t yet provide users with the ability to experience real interactions with objects.
Out-of-the-box solutions will not suit every case of training. Materials and workflows should be tailored specifically for the domain of study.
Also, training programs should follow particular scenarios for better comprehension. So, if a tutorial can be unified, all hands-on practice should be customizable.
4. Is The Metaverse Just VR Tools Combined?
At the end of the day, we need to agree on this: The metaverse is just a large ecosystem of diverse VR tools, combined.
Yes, the metaverse offers never-before-seen opportunities, surroundings and tools for training and pretty much any other activity. But if we look beyond the surface, it’s still good old VR.
The metaverse incorporates a lot of other tools, too, such as blockchain and AR, but the core of it is VR. Also, remember that the metaverse is not a tool but an experience, and it allows us to get rid of the limitations VR devices apply.
So, even if the metaverse is a new concept, VR isn’t, and many businesses already know how to build VR training programs. That’s already a good start.
5. The Metaverse Concept Sets A High Bar; Is It Possible To Reach It?
Videos presenting the metaverse set a really high bar. Every simulation looks impossibly realistic and offers an incredible number of tools. If we’re doing training inside a simulation, then every object will be interactive.
Unfortunately, it’s not 100% possible yet. Intel believes that to implement all the possibilities, the metaverse needs a thousand-fold increase in computing capability.
But it’s not bad news either. We still can build outstanding and incredibly efficient training solutions in VR. Even such important and sensitive things as surgical techniques can be taught in VR.
At the end of the day, the metaverse is an incredible concept that has lots of potential. In the near future, I hope it gets more and more recognition and acceptance, as well as investment and attention from large-caps.