Metaverse: what is it? Virtual reality, augmented reality, immersive technologies, social media and artificial intelligence make up the metaverse, a combination of different technologies. Metaverse is already etched in your memory if you have visited a virtual museum or played a virtual game.
Expanding the canvas of the Internet through a combination of many new and evolving technologies, Metaverse offers an opportunity like never before. In a country like India, this technology can be used to rapidly accelerate and improve our education and skills development goals. Whether it’s making STEM education universal in India, upskilling our workers for jobs of the future, educating teachers or even bolstering our thriving EdTech industry.
The Metaverse can address the issue of physical infrastructures when providing STEM education. It is expensive to build science labs, planetariums and museums in the real world and their regular maintenance becomes another challenging factor. Instead of buying expensive learning objects, it can be made available in the digital world for 1 percent of the cost.
Higher education can also become more relevant if it can be hyper-personalised. One-to-one learning is possible using AI and the metaverse. With the growing ecosystem of digital spaces, networks and metaverses, our daily activities and interactions in the physical and virtual worlds will impact us even more.
This already has implications for higher education as it expands the ways students access information, how the information is created, and how students interact and connect. Work experiences, virtual internships and connecting them to the higher education curriculum are possible on the Metaverse.
Technology will allow teachers to become more intuitive and use tools to create a more conducive learning environment. Immersive technology and Metaverse will have an impact for both teachers and students. In the same way, this technology can also meet the challenge of teacher training and staff upskilling. It can make up for the lack of infrastructure, which until now has not been available to retrain the staff.
The metaverse combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and data science can also measure a trainee’s proficiency over a period of time. It can assess and predict the learner’s employability — how quickly the learner picks up the skill and how good he/she will be at the real job.
It can also gamify the entire skill process, increasing engagement and making training fun. Immersive technologies allow a person to visit a manufacturing facility and acquire the required skill without physically visiting the industry. He/she can have immersive training that can closely simulate the work environment and provide the hands-on experience needed to complete tasks.
More than specific achievements, the biggest change Metaverse could usher in is the age of creators in our economy. Many economists and experts have previously spoken of the challenges of India’s labour-oriented workforce in their struggle to achieve global economies of scale. By empowering students and employees through immersive technologies, Metaverse can shift our workforce toward a creative and producer-centric orientation.
Another reason why the Indian economy seems so attractive is probably that we’ll be achieving our demographic dividend over the next 20 years. This means that India’s workforce will outnumber the dependent population from now until 2040 – an interesting time to reap many economic and social benefits. The important question is: how do we currently train this crucial future workforce?
In the context of this demographic dividend, it becomes important for us to see how Metaverse can solve systemic challenges and infrastructure problems rooted in the country’s urban and rural divide. By providing a solution that requires lean implementation and minimal resources, Metaverse provides the ability to scale our initiatives directly to India’s rural hinterland.
Even if it’s just a simple integration with existing Whatsapp technology, many companies can work in the Metaverse to create programs and bots that help workers from the 2-3 cities and even rural areas of India to gain digital skills and without high onboarding costs.
Instead of building expensive labs and classrooms, edtech companies can design modules that leverage AR and VR to give any student with a phone an immersive experience.
As the world enters a new exciting phase of technological development, let’s focus on making technology the solution and not another factor that divides and excludes those who are already marginalized. Let’s make Metaverse the bridge between our urban and rural populations.
— Written by Manav Subodh, co-founder of 1M1B (One Million for One Billion) Foundation
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