Digital Learning in the Metaverse

Two men sitting down with their laptops open in front of them, and talking to each other.

The rise of online learning is nothing new; in fact, we’ve been steadily moving towards remote learning and working and socializing long before any pandemic disrupted our lives. For well over a decade, eLearning and eTraining have experienced tremendous growth with schools, universities, and workplaces providing people the opportunity to grow new skills and knowledge via more flexible mobile apps and options. There are multiple factors fueling the demand for such experiences, and the learning platform (LMS / CMS) marketplace has expanded to meet this demand. And, these new options provide just the democratizer our world needs—by offering more personalized, collaborative, and nimble tools, people are better supported as they (must) pivot in our ever-changing world in which needed skills to shift and flex at a rapid pace.

A recent Gartner poll indicates that 48% of employees will likely work remotely (at least part of the time) post COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic. As organizations shift to more remote work operations, we’d be smart to explore critical competencies all kinds of employees will need to collaborate digitally, and prepare ourselves to adjust employee experience strategies. We can also consider whether and how to shift performance goal-setting and employee evaluations for new remote environments.

So what’s next?

For those of us working remotely, Zoom fatigue is real. Our work teams in online spaces have often felt uncollaborative as we’ve learned tricks for tuning out and turning off our screens. The rise of new technologies due to terrific partnerships between education and tech are now focused on creating realistic virtual learning environments to provide more relatable, collaborative worlds in which people can thrive without so much strain.

Active (or hybrid or blended) learning is a must for online education and training. Not only a necessity since the before-times (pre-pandemic), the Great Resignation and the Boomer generation’s retirees’ growing desire to engage in meaningful work experiences also contribute to the pressing need to acquire new skills at a pace that better suits learners eager to ditch a one-size-fits-all approach.

The rise of new digital technologies—namely, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR)—clearly showcase that our world is “happening” in a distributed, hybrid, online way. AI, VR, and 3D tools provide better access (and UX) with multilingual opportunities, customized responsive learning, and information visualization.

Companies and universities alike are diving into developing and deploying these equalizing technologies to continue to engage audiences and support capabilities expansion.

Forbes reports: “With artificial intelligence, VR and AR technologies, the metaverse could become the next big offering when it comes to learning opportunities available to people worldwide. And with the AI education market expected to surpass $20 billion by 2027, the educational metaverse has the potential to create new innovative learning approaches, a gateway to a more immersive learning experience.”

Cue the metaverse

More mainstream companies like Walmart and Microsoft, and creative enterprises like Sundance and Villa, are already hosting meetings and gatherings in the metaverse. Get ready for much more of this activity, and soon. eLearning trends for 2022 continue to lean heavily towards remote, diversified, collaborative, realistic, and authentic engagement. The metaverse’s environments and offerings are directly responsive to these capabilities.

According to this Brookings report, leveraging the potential of the metaverse is as mission-critical to work and school as it is to play. Tech innovators are finding new ways to connect our physical world with AR, VR, and 3D tools to enhance our virtual world(s). The key is to create and retain facets promoting global, interconnected, immersive, and real-time online spaces, and reduce those elements that fatigue learners, workers, and yes, gamers.

Consider this: Virtual and hybrid work and events, accelerated by COVID-19, offer more dynamic delivery to engage attendees and a distributed workforce. Authenticity and real-time engagement rules these modes as the metaverse and related tools get us even closer to “the real thing.” Webinars, streaming events, and eLearning collaborations require virtual, real-time components, dynamic content delivery on multiple devices, and more intuitive interface capabilities like accessibility features for multitasking and immersive experiences. 

Tools, like 3D integration, are being developed at lightspeed as the metaverse emerges. Demand is increasing for users to manipulate content and experiences in the virtual, augmented, immersive environments it hosts. Being able to more easily share visual points of reference helps people communicate ideas across remote or dispersed teams. The drive behind more inclusive UX (via AI) is the need for speed, intuitiveness, accessibility, multi-tasking, and more innovative solutions for content creators and work teams in data management, for example.

Engaging people within the metaverse actually “future-proofs” your offerings. With all these cool new tools at our fingertips, businesses, schools, and organizations need to be where users are spatially and temporally. Future-proofing is the first step to building a better user journey. So, really, there’s no escaping the metaverse as a space for what we need to achieve—and why would you want to, given the capabilities and demands of online environments for learning, working, and playing?

Eager to learn more about our brave new world?

Check out some interesting resources on the (not-so-far-off) future of online learning, training, and the metaverse’s role in our post-pandemic experiences.

Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.

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