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Metaverse: Shaping the Future of Learning and Development

2022 has already ushered in widespread investment into newer programs and technology for the learning and development sector to engage a new workforce and improve employee experiences. The new buzzword that’s been recently spoken a lot about is Metaverse. This newly added concept is being considered to bring the next paradigm shift in the learning and development space globally. But what does it really mean?

The thing with this raging buzzword is that the more one thinks about it, the more its definition seems to blur. So, what exactly is metaverse? What does it mean for the L&D space? Is it just a mixture of Al, ML and IoT? Well, to be precise, metaverse is a virtual or alternate world in which people are replaced by avatars and digital representations, allowing them to socialise in the same environment irrespective of their geographical locations. It envisions a future in which the physical and digital lives of people are more closely intertwined.

This concept seems to be opening the door to new possibilities for innovative ways to leverage digital learning solutions within a greater ecosystem for organisations globally. The premise of a metaverse itself seems to be the best fit for corporate L&D learners as it allows one to empower and manage their own learning experiences. By providing a fresh, interactive engagement the learners will be able to learn faster, retain information better and actually enjoy the process rather than dreading to complete the corporate learning requirements.

Adding to numerous other benefits of this concept, metaverse in L&D can deliver immersive and more collaborative approaches that will not only benefit employees but also directly influence operational bottom lines.

Not only will this allow a quicker pace of learning, metaverse will also promote focus providing employees better knowledge, retention and improved understanding. A recent Pwc study has shown that employees who trained in VR simulations learned four times faster than classroom learners and twice as fast as eLearners. Interesting, right? All said and done, HR leaders not only appreciate the need for this, but are wholeheartedly embracing new approaches to train, sustain, and develop their teams in order to stay agile and competitive. We feel Metaverse is the next frontier in shaping the L&D practices of the workforce and leaders must embrace this.

But the real question seems to be still unanswered as to which areas seem to have an influence of metaverse here. Do not worry, we have worked, researched and brainstormed to come up with the top four areas where Metaverse will act as an influence in rebuilding newer strategies for the L&D space.

1. Learning Management System :

Imagine yourself inside a movie along with 3D avatars that are designed by yourself, moving freely, interacting with others, experiencing real-life scenarios but in a virtual world that can be quite parallel to our own, actual world. Wow! Wouldn’t this be great fun? Although Learning Management systems have been a bone for the learning industry, but they still come with some limitations that decrease the effectiveness of learning. Multi-user virtuality immersed in Reality (MUVIR) will give an opportunity of involving themselves in the process of constructing meaningful experiences. Similar to a traditional Learning management system, metaverse will help learners “walk” through libraries, galleries, museums and have physical access to data, all stored in a central location.

With metaverse integrated with LMSs, this will allow users not only to navigate and interact with a pre-existing 3D environment, but also to extend that environment by creating objects of their own thereby ensuring an enriching learning experience. This captivating and useful tool has capabilities to improve deep, active and collaborative learning and will be a successor of enhancing the learning experience of users.

2. Simulations :

Metaverse will take learners into real workplace environment created artificially, supporting a number of effective learning experiences through simulations that will drive both technical and soft skills training. Here, learners can exist in a simulated reality where the laws of physics, gravity, and corporeality are obeyed. For instance, a people manager can practice giving in-person interviews where body language and facial expressions are critical to making an employee feel at ease. Moreover, they can sit together in a metaverse to watch a video or playback or product simulation and make real time comments and critiques.

The virtual training and simulation market size was valued at $204.41 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $601.85 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 13.7% from 2020 to 2027. Metaverse in L&D can include programs to help leaders develop soft skills to improve team performance. They will also be able to learn how to handle difficult conversations, lead remote teams, build empathy and drive innovation. Simulations combined with Metaverse will radically enhance experience and increase learning efficiency many folds. The metaverse is simply a confluence of many immersive learning technologies into a single learning ecosystem for providing authentic learning experience.

3. Teaching methods :

Imagine, every child, you and I inside the solar system trying to understand the sequence of our planets. We could be in orbit to experience the speed. ‘Learning by imagination’ replaced by ‘learning by experience’. This is exactly how teaching methods will change with metaverse’s involvement. Thanks to the pandemic and the evolution which have now helped learners move away from video, audio, and static PPT based eLearning into more immersive AR/VR based content. Metaverse can also encourage participation and engagement in peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

With metaverse in the picture, the teaching methods will drastically change, and learners will be able to leverage next gen learning strategies, including scenario-based learning, interactive videos, and gamification. By combining the Metaverse and learning, we’ll see more adoption of learning hubs, learning and performance support tools, and personalised learning. These approaches will firmly anchor continuous L&D as a bedrock strategy for all learning-centric organisations.

4. Group Facilitations :

What if you could access a technology-enabled approach to fast-track collaboration and buy-in from the group to a defined goal, topic or question? Metaverse will bring together the expert skills to align group facilitation to create fully endorsed goals, metrics and plans. Group facilitation through metaverse will welcome new learners with personalised messages ensuring that old human touch is there and will assist them for a greater collaborative learning. Metaverse will also help in setting learning goals for learners, communicating them, and monitoring the entire learning progress to share personalised feedback. This will enable proactively coaching learners by analysing individual learning needs, making individual recommendations and providing individualised feedback.

Metaverse in facilitation will ensure unnecessary noise is cut out and will aim at promoting more purposeful and productive group conversations. This approach will not only help learners spark numerous Light Bulb Moments but will also tap into the answers that already lie within the team. The use of metaverse in group facilitation will bring the team together quickly to ensure fast solutions are agreed and robust roadmap implementations are produced thereby enhancing the learning journey.

In the infinite metaverse, varied modalities can be created to simulate real-life scenarios that will enrich learners’ experience in their unique and exacting roles, allowing them to develop and design outcomes as they learn. People learn in unique ways, and metaverse will offer evolving workforces numerous opportunities to learn, sustain, and change the way they work all without going off-line for hours at a time and with greater impact. If organisation’s goal is to achieve a culture of continuous learning with a learner-centric approach, then the metaverse is going to be the key tool to support their success.

The reason L&D in the metaverse is and will be so effective is that it offers all the advantages of digital learning — convenience, “datafication” and remote collaboration without any of the previous drawbacks that distinguished the virtual from reality. As these two realms begin to blend together, expect to see greater training opportunities to emerge in 2022 and beyond.

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