5 Major Problems Of Doing College In Metaverse
More and more universities are transforming into “metaverse,” expanding beyond their actual campuses and into the “metaverse,” a popularly known virtual online environment. In one project, 10 U.S. colleges and universities collaborated with Meta, the parent company of Facebook, and the virtual reality company VictoryXR to build 3D online replicas of their campuses that are updated in real-time as people and objects move around the physical spaces. These replicas are sometimes referred to as “digital twins.”
In the metaverse, some classes are already in session. VictoryXR also claims that by 2023, it intends to construct and run 100 digital twin campuses, which enable group learning with live teachers and in-person interactions in the classroom.
Beginning in 2027, New Mexico State University, one metaverse builder, plans to provide degrees in which students can complete all their coursework virtually.
College courses in the metaverse provide various advantages, including 3D visual learning, more lifelike engagement, and simpler access for distant students. However, there could also be issues. My most recent research has concentrated on the metaverse’s ethical, social, and practical dimensions and threats, including privacy and security breaches. I see five difficulties:
- Expensive and lengthy
In some circumstances, the metaverse serves as a low-cost learning substitute. At Fisk University, scientific education is now cheaper, thanks to a virtual cadaver lab. An expensive and space-intensive project is creating a cadaver laboratory, which costs several million dollars to develop.
Universities incur additional costs due to the purchase of virtual reality headsets, virtual reality content licenses, the building of digital twin campuses, and other investment costs. Universities may have to pay at least $20,000 and as much as $100,000 for a digital twin campus’s metaverse course license. Additionally, VictoryXR charges each student a $200 annual subscription fee to enter its metaverse.
Virtual reality headsets entail additional fees. While Meta is giving away a few of its Meta Quest 2 virtual reality headsets for free to metaversities founded by Meta and VictoryXR, it may not be enough. The Meta Quest 2 headset’s entry-level 128GB model costs $399.99. Additional operational costs and time are incurred while managing and maintaining many headsets, including keeping them fully charged.
Additionally, colleges must invest time and money in preparing their professors to teach metaverse courses. Delivering metaverse courses will take even longer because many of them require brand-new digital content. Most teachers lack the skills necessary to design their metaverse lessons, which can combine text, audio, still photos, and videos with interactive features to create a fully immersive online experience.
- Concerns about data privacy, security, and safety
Companies creating metaverse technology rely on user data collection as part of their business strategies. For instance, Facebook accounts must utilize Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets.
The headsets can gather extremely private and sensitive information, including location, student movements, physical characteristics, and voice recordings. The privacy of that information and the restriction of access by potential advertisers are not promises made by Meta.
Project Cambria, a high-end virtual reality headset by Meta, has more sophisticated features. A virtual avatar can keep eye contact with the user and imitate their facial emotions and eye movements thanks to the device’s sensors. Advertisers can use such data to gauge user attention and target them with customized ads.
Suppose professors and students are aware that the university and a major technology corporation are watching all of their actions, words, and even facial expressions. In that case, they may not freely participate in class discussions. The virtual world and its technology can collect a wide range of user data, including physical movement, pulse rate, pupil size, eye openness, and even emotional signals.
Metaverse interfaces deliver information directly to users’ senses, essentially fooling the user’s brain into thinking they are elsewhere. Attackers of virtual reality systems can control the actions of users while they are immersed, including pushing them into potentially hazardous situations like climbing a stairway. In the metaverse, cyberattacks may even result in bodily injury.
Students may be exposed to unsuitable material through the metaverse. To introduce 3D, interactive, virtual settings into traditional and online learning contexts, for instance, Roblox developed Roblox Education. Roblox claims to have robust security measures in place to keep users secure. Still, no security system is impenetrable. Roblox’s metaverse includes user-generated content and a chat feature that might be compromised by predators or those uploading pornography or other unlawful materials.
- Lack of access to modern infrastructure in rural areas
Videos in three dimensions and other metaverse applications use a lot of bandwidth. They need high-speed data networks to manage all of the information flowing between sensors and users across the virtual and real space.
The infrastructure necessary to support streaming high-quality metaverse content is lacking for many consumers, particularly in rural locations. In the United States, 97% of people who live in urban areas have access to a high-speed connection, compared to 65% of those in rural areas and 60% of people living in tribal lands.
- Coping with difficulties in a new setting
A school’s approach to teaching and learning must be drastically altered to build and launch a metaverse. For instance, metaverse students actively participate in virtual reality games and other activities rather than just consuming content.
Artificial intelligence combined with immersive game-based learning and virtual reality can produce individualized learning experiences not experienced in real-time but through the metaverse. Learning in the metaverse may become less controlled and more governed by automatic systems that adjust the curriculum and learning pace by the student’s aptitude and interests.
Due to these variations, exams and other forms of assessment and monitoring must be significantly altered. Multiple choice tests and other conventional methods are not adequate for evaluating the metaverse’s customized and unstructured learning experiences.
- Increasing prejudice
History, science, and other subject textbooks frequently contain gender, racial, and ideological biases that affect how students perceive particular events and subjects. Sometimes, these biases get in the way of achieving justice and other objectives, like gender equality.
The ability of films to influence pupils’ opinions exceeds that of textbooks. Content from the metaverse has the potential to be far more powerful. The impact of biases may be much more potent in rich media settings.
Universities and their students will have to grapple with issues like user privacy protection, teacher preparation, and the degree of national investment in broadband networks if they are to fully utilize the metaverse for teaching and learning.