For many, the Metaverse is an abstract concept. One that may still be just as confusing as it is prolific in its surrounding buzz and popularity. Many wonder: how will this actually impact my life and work, and when will that be?
Despite the plethora of outstanding questions about the Metaverse, tangible applications for its promise of more immersive, impactful digital experiences are here today. And one that is rapidly gaining momentum is education. Learning experiences that leverage the technology of the Metaverse are delivering real impactand proven efficacy in the form of immersive learning.
To shed light on this emerging Metaverse use case, we polled some of the most prominent experts in the space – executives from companies working to enable the educational experiences of the Metaverse, like Accenture, HTC, Meta, The Ken Blanchard Companies®, and Unity – to provide their thoughts on its implications and potential.
Through their responses, they simplify the Metaverse, discuss their experience exploring its use cases, highlight areas where immersive learning will be most impactful, and help separate the signal from the noise.
Let’s dive in.
Experts Weigh in on Learning in the Metaverse
To get a sense of how education is taking shape in the Metaverse, we spoke to a sampling of experts from organizations across facets of the previously niche, and now maturing immersive learning ecosystem. This ecosystem brings together organizations from multiple fields and specializations to enable the user experiences that learners consume via immersive technology and content. This includes:
- Organizations Creating and Delivering Immersive Learning Programs: These learning content creators and training providers are designing and delivering immersive learning content for learners to experience, and for enterprises to adopt.
- Learning and Workforce Talent Platforms: Platform providers are taking on the challenge of determining how immersive learning content and technology are integrated into the enterprise software landscape.
- XR Hardware and Software Providers: Technology companies that provide XR hardware and software products are solving the technical aspects of enabling the development, distribution, and consumption of immersive media.
Organizations Creating and Delivering Immersive Learning Programs
As the benefits of immersive learning became more clear, the world’s leading enterprise training content creators and providers began integrating the technology into their product and service offerings. The result? More XR training use cases, more efficacy validation, and more opportunity for learners globally to experience what it’s like to build skills in VR. These organizations are on the leading edge of immersive learning’s growth – determining how to best design immersive learning experiences, deploying the technology at scale, and measuring its efficacy. We had the opportunity to speak with representatives from some of these organizations to hear their thoughts on how immersive learning is being utilized to date, and where it will go in the near future.
“At Accenture, we’re big believers in the power and efficacy of immersive learning using virtual reality, which we have found is much more engaging and effective than traditional classroom learning. For example, in Ohio, we used VR training to help child welfare caseworkers learn how to go through a house and spot things that might indicate the need for children in that home to be placed in child services. Afterward, the trainees would talk as a group and explain their decisions, and they really valued that virtual exposure to what the job was like, before they had to do it in a real-life situation. Similarly, we worked with Goodwill Industries International to leverage VR training to help prison inmates re-enter society by learning how to talk about their incarceration so they’re better prepared to find employment.”
“Training and upskilling the workforce is a universal challenge. Finding creative and effective methods are key to differentiation and building success.Talespin has answered the call with scalable solutions where our clients are now providing employees a realistic, hands-on and immersive training experience. The results show 4X engagement and retention in learning, providing learners with almost 275% more confidence in applying what they’ve learned immediately after completing a course.Concannon XR is leveraging these methods ourselves. We have built two Core Value training modules for our own team of consultants. Easy to create training modules allow our team to interactively learn our core values by placing them in simulations where they get a chance to practice applying our values to real-life experiences. We believe this is the future of soft skills training and are excited to share our results with more and more clients.”
“As an introvert, the thought of role playing a training scenario with colleagues is not something I relish. Doing so in Virtual Reality in a safe and consequence-free environment, however, allows one to drop one’s guard, making learning enjoyable. This is Immersive Learning, and there are many studies that show that it is highly effective, making learning faster and improving retention of knowledge. This results in increased confidence and better on-the-job performance for the employee. For executives considering adding this option to their learning offerings, experiencing immersive learning firsthand is a must.The persistent and shared world of an enterprise Metaverse allows the natural extension of Immersive Learning into multiplayer learning experiences. In a Metaverse all forms of interactions and collaboration can be used in training simulations. Teams can practice exercises such as responding to a cyber threat, or to an unfolding natural disaster. They can do this from anywhere in the world, increasing meaningful training time at greatly reduced costs. Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru, a no-win Starfleet exercise to test cadets, is here today.”
Education Design Lab
“XR technology holds great promise for enabling individuals to demonstrate skills gained through life and work experience. Education Design Lab’s XCredit initiative leverages Talespin’s XR technology to develop next-generation assessments of in-demand 21st century “soft” skills. Employers consistently identify these skills, such as creative problem solving and empathy, as critical for success on the job, yet difficult to assess in the hiring process. Through XCredit, learner-earners, particularly those with the least access to educational and employment opportunities, can earn digital micro-credentials by demonstrating mastery of their skills either through Oculus or Talespin’s desktop streaming app. These micro-credentials then serve as valuable hiring signals to potential employers, increasing access to good jobs and leading to economic mobility for those who need it most.”
“High school or earlier is the optimal time to build career navigation skills and knowledge by helping students connect the dots between their interests and identities, emerging opportunities and challenges in digital learning, trends in the labor market, and the array of postsecondary options that can lead to careers with family-sustaining wages. That’s why as Skill Immersion Lab students learn and design VR curricula to teach communication and collaboration skills, they engage in actual work experiences of VR professionals, from narrative designers to learning engineers. An engaging classroom experience becomes even more powerful when students can connect it to real-world opportunities and education and career pathways they can access.”
“As the metaverse expands and becomes an integral place of learning, we need the right tools to ensure learners are developing in-demand interpersonal and soft skills. We see so much value in the ability of VR simulations to develop skills for the future world of work in safe, easy and authentic virtual environments.A partner of leading universities and industry globally, OES believes in the power of VR simulations to enhance learning and make soft skill training more efficient and scalable than ever before. Authentic VR simulations give learners a safe way to develop complex, nuanced and challenging soft skills to best prepare them for their professional lives. For example, pre-service teachers can practice teaching to diverse student groups; professionals can hone their communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills; and trainee health professionals can practice dealing with ethical issues or having challenging conversations with colleagues. We’ve found the applications are extensive. The metaverse is paving the way for authentic, immersive experiences ideal for universities and industry to provide learners with the soft skills they need to succeed in life.”
“Learning in the metaverse can mean many things from joining colleagues in a virtual world training workshop on a laptop to putting on a VR headset and being immersed in the simulation of a practical task.Shifts in ways of working will positively influence the use of these metaverse solutions in corporate learning. Remote working has become widely adopted globally and training will have to adapt to this shift to maintain standards of learning. Wherever your workforce is based in the world, metaverse solutions are well-placed to provide:
“Immersive learning plays a foundational role in one of our signature corporate social responsibility programs, The Skill Immersion Lab. Using immersive learning through VR, and working with our community partner JFFLabs, high school students are learning the incredibly important skills of effective leadership and communication. Through this technology, we are able to reach new students, especially those in rural areas. Students are consistently saying it’s a much more fun and engaging way to learn. Our results show that it’s also a highly effective way to learn, with the vast majority of students saying it has helped improve their confidence and has taught them how to communicate empathetically. To be able to deliver these skills virtually, in a world where there are big challenges to corporate volunteering, has made us increasingly passionate about this type of learning reaching more students.”
“In the next couple of years, immersive technologies, particularly in the soft skills arena, will become a substantial part of training strategies, as we see the next generation of workers and learners enter the workforce.Training and education institutions and enterprises alike, are looking to move away from the face-to-face teaching style that is speaking content at learners and move to a model that promotes and supports the learners to seek the information themselves, while the trainer/teacher takes on more of a facilitation role. Immersive technology will come to the forefront as this education style transforms and becomes the new norm. Its flexibility and immediate feedback mechanism sees learners moving seamlessly through their learning, receiving feedback as they go in an experiential learning environment that has meaning for them. This style of learning has more reach than traditional learning and is far more flexible and adaptive for our upcoming generations.Watch this space. It will start slow but gain momentum more quickly than most expect.”
The Ken Blanchard Companies®
“What is the metaverse, anyway? That is exactly what people are attempting to figure out. Is it in Virtual Reality, like Second Life or Ready Player One? Is it on a mobile device, like Minecraft or Roblox? Once we agree on a common language around the Metaverse, the next step is to identify the right use cases for learning, to move from a novelty approach to one that drives outcomes. For example, using scenario-based VR simulations to safely practice how to have difficult conversations or work through performance issues, or having the opportunity to schedule time to connect with a live leadership coach in an interactive group space in VR and work through a sticky situation are viable use cases and a great way to build skills in this hybrid world. There are plenty of opportunities to help individuals build leadership skills within immersive environments. However, good things take time. Just like it took some time for organizations to adopt using mobile devices for deploying content and programs, designing, delivering, and implementing VR/Metaverse solutions will take some time, but will accelerate to scale as the technology and systems to operationalize it becomes more available and accessible.”
“The pharmaceutical industry has faced several challenges stemming from the need to keep up with accelerating change. Talent shortages are becoming a chronic issue because hiring and training practices for pharma professionals are struggling to keep pace with the rate of change.In this digital world, VR/Metaverse technology is one solution that can accelerate workforce readiness faster than any other learning method. Learners can role-play in a safe environment and get instant feedback from an AI-powered virtual human. It is applied to more and more use cases, such as Capability building and Cultural transformation, Sales and Customer Service, Leadership and Communication, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.Moreover, businesses adopt it to close their skills gaps in a technology-driven and remote workplace. At Vocacy, we see XR and the Metaverse as a learning methodology that will experience rapid growth globally because it’s immersive, interactive, engaging, cost-effective, and scalable learning experiences.”
Learning and Workforce Talent Platforms
The world’s learning and workforce talent platforms are also taking notice of the potential the Metaverse offers for education, and considering how they will incorporate it into their business and product strategies. These organizations are playing a key role in figuring out how immersive learning will be integrated into the enterprise software ecosystem. This includes learning management systems (LMS), learning content libraries and content aggregation platforms, human capital management (HCM) platforms, and employment marketplaces.As these organizations solve technical challenges, and help to deliver immersive technology to the enterprise at scale, we will see even greater adoption of immersive learning across the workforce lifecycle. Here’s their insight on the role the Metaverse will play in learning and development.
“The metaverse will have profound impact on the way we work. Adoption of XR-based training models continues to grow and bring real efficiency, productivity and safety benefits to organizations everywhere. Simulations provide the ability for people to learn from experimentation and failures. VR training enables people to work on a full-sized automobile, airplane or in a factory in the comfort of their home with tight feedback loops. AR has vast potential to affect broad outcomes such as improving the customer experience, use of heads up displays in repairs or helping someone on the factory floor to identify defects. Further the ability to use XR functions in daily “moments that matter,” including blended spaces, show great promise for team cohesion. Cornerstone’s customers are at the leading edge of building and implementing metaverse-based solutions that will transform the way we train and work. Cornerstone is committed to delivering such innovations to all our customers.”
“We hear from learners that they want faster, more focused and more effective learning experiences,” said Ben Richardson, Chief Content Officer at Go1, one of the world’s largest content hubs for corporate learning. “Immersive formats are proven to deliver more emotionally connected outcomes, where students can learn by doing while eliminating real-word risks of error and waste.”
“The metaverse opens up a world of exciting possibilities, particularly in the area of learning and skills development. These new immersive experiences have the potential to level the playing field for learning by removing physical barriers to access. For example, imagine being able to bring the “digital twin” of a top medical school into your home, or learn about the universe by visiting it. Or pop into a digital office where you can immerse yourself in scenarios that build and practice soft skills. At Pearson, we’re exploring the metaverse in relation to all aspects of our business with the aim of supporting consumers wherever they are in their lifetime of learning. Our recent acquisition Mondly uses immersive technology to help people learn new languages and we’re also excited to explore this space with a variety of partners, including Talespin. As the world’s largest learning company, our goal is to bring our industry expertise in learning design, efficacy, content, and assessment to the Metaverse.”
“We see clear advantages in immersive learning over more traditional mediums across a broad range of soft and hard skill use cases. An immersive experience delivered via virtual reality makes it easier for people to focus which leads to deep engagement and improved learning outcomes, especially knowledge retention. We believe that these benefits will become broadly recognised over time as the technology improves and more learners have access to it. We are only just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of the impact that immersive learning can have on education / L&D and we are excited both by the value that early adopters are realizing, as well as the incredible potential the future holds.”
XR Hardware and Software Providers
The hardware devices and platforms people use to consume immersive learning content are a critical aspect of its delivery, and the experience it provides to learners. While many Metaverse experiences can be accessed using 2D devices like computers and mobile devices, XR head mounted displays (HMDs) offer an added degree of immersion that allows learners to consume learning content in virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality media formats. In recent years, these devices have gotten smaller and more affordable, with improved resolutions and processing capabilities – giving content creators the ability to build a new generation of immersive learning experiences. Behind these advancements are organizations building the hardware and software ecosystem that enables immersive content to be delivered. We asked these experts for their take on what’s next for this growing learning modality.
“The World Economic Forum forecasts that over one billion jobs will be radically transformed in the coming decade. How we reskill and upskill the global workforce in a time defined by rapidly changing technology should be top of mind for every business, political and community leader everywhere,” said Pearly Chen, VP at HTC. “Virtual reality offers a powerful platform for skills development that is effective, engaging, and accessible for all of us humans that are by nature 3-D learners. We are proud to support forward-thinking companies like Talespin, who has been pioneering an immersive skills development platform which empowers individuals and organizations at scale.”
“The Metaverse, and creating relevant content for their organization’s presence within it, is currently top of mind for many businesses. Effectively training employees, keeping them engaged, and providing tools for them to stay connected are some of the challenges this new virtual workspace can help solve.Lenovo’s ThinkReality team deals exclusively with commercial VR/AR customers and their journey scaling into the Metaverse. Educating our customers on the benefits of training in this new methodology involves sharing real world data on how it can save money, reduce travel fatigue, and enhance employee satisfaction. By making Metaverse training safe, repeatable, and enjoyable, employees are more confident, and more confident employees are quite simply better for business.This is true for all enterprises, regardless of their scale or vertical. They all need to onboard new employees, provide soft-skills training, and keep teams up to date with the latest trends. Talespin’s CoPilot Designer allows organizations to easily build this kind of VR content from scratch, modify existing modules, and track employee’s success with ease. We are looking forward to offering complete solutions in the near future that include Lenovo hardware, device management, and tools like Talespin’s software.”
“The pandemic forced us into a global experiment where the entire world had to figure out how to gain access to learning without classrooms, labs, travel, or field trips. We quickly realized that although you can bring access to education online and deliver knowledge, we needed to unlock curiosity, creativity, and connection to truly engage with learning. And so we were faced with a challenge – one whose solutions were rooted in interactive 3D visualizations and simulated environments where we could join with others in digital spaces with a sense of presence. And slowly, the potential affordances of the metaverse became clear as one of the most intriguing ways to increase access to education and transform the way we learn. The future of learning will push the boundaries of the traditional hybrid model for learning to a “tribrid” model where we will seamlessly move between in-person, online, and immersive experiences for a more curious, creative and connected world.”
“As we head into this new world the opportunity and impact of virtual training can not be overstated. Humans learn from doing and failure. The virtual world provides a place to try, practice and learn without the costly consequences of doing so in the real world. Only experience turns knowledge into wisdom. Now we can democratize those experiences with the same emotions and learning as if it happened in real-life, with the ability to replay, expand and learn. In essence this virtual world provides the ability to democratize and accelerate wisdom gained over a lifetime. All leading to more understanding, empathy and growth, which the world desperately needs. Talespin has created a solution that allows this to happen at scale.”
Key Takeaways From Across the Immersive Learning Industry
That’s a lot to digest – but there are several themes that underpin these expert perspectives:
Education in the Metaverse is Becoming a Reality
So there you have it. As we can see, the potential for learning in the Metaverse is beginning to be realized. According to the organizations making it a reality, it has the power to transform a range of diverse industries – doing everything from empowering surgeons to simulate surgeries to enabling managers to effectively practice difficult conversations and allowing first responders to train for emergencies. There are already so many ways the technologies of the Metaverse are enhancing how we build our professional skills. And yet, we are still just scratching the surface.