Design for collaborative learning in the metaverse
Online learning was slowly but steadily gaining momentum before the pandemic. Then, in 2020, it accelerated and has been on the rise ever since.
However, just being on the digital platform is not enough for an effective learning experience. An important aspect of the learning experience is collaboration.
Collaborative learning and development capabilities drive greater success. Decades ago, collaboration was limited to the physical presence of learners in the classroom. Today, technology is bridging that geographic distance. However, we must also use it to create a social touch and interact within a community as a whole.
L&D used to be mostly individual. Learners are expected to find, develop and demonstrate their knowledge and skills individually. However, it is not possible for humans to master everything on their own. In addition, nowadays knowledge has to be absorbed faster and skills have to be developed faster. Therefore, it is beneficial to work together and learn from each other.
Collaborative learning saw its breakthrough in 2021. In 2022 it was established as essential for effective learning, and in 2023 we will see advances in technology that enable easy collaboration. One of these advancements is the Metaverse.
Collaborative learning is based on the premise that the bundling of knowledge intensifies learning and increases it many times over in comparison to individual studies. The SPA services (social-psychological-academic) lead to a multidimensional effect. Leaderboards, jigsaw puzzles, discussion forums and group projects promote learners’ access to the knowledge of their peers. Sharing, brainstorming and review lead to higher-level thinking that adds new knowledge and builds on existing knowledge. Working in a group improves problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Global in-person participation is limited by geographic barriers. While this may be short and sweet in the online modality, it lacks the benefits of a real-time environment.
Not only can the metaverse bridge the geographic divide, but it can also bring in the best aspects of face-to-face interactions. True to its definition, it can provide a classroom experience in an immersive three-dimensional virtual space where learners can experience learning in ways they cannot in the physical world.
Intense and engaging lessons, interactive discussion forums, and more responsive teacher engagement in a virtual environment can enrich the learning experience. For example, faculty interaction in a metaverse, where learners can discuss at certain times and comment on a whiteboard at other times, is more fun and engaging than in a simple text discussion forum. Below are some of the key benefits of collaborative learning and how the metaverse can further improve it.
Reduced time between learning and application
I have developed a “learn-observe-practice-do” model based on the premise that, in addition to learning by reading through concepts and listening to experts, much learning also occurs by observing experts perform a task . Imitation learning goes a long way to learning the unspoken aspects.
In the Metaverse, learners can observe and practice a real scenario within a virtual replica. For example, as part of an effective communication course, the practitioner can demonstrate effective skills by presenting them to a live audience in a metaverse setting, and then the learner can practice with their peer group. This will help reduce the time between learning and application.
Improved learner engagement
Collaborative learning leads to open dialogue and the expression of ideas and opinions by everyone in the group. Learning from peer perspectives not only creates positive bonds between groups, but also raises members’ awareness of diversity.
The metaverse can enable the formation of a diverse peer group with participants from around the world where learners can interact in real time and gain a global perspective and experience. Incorporating “virtual interaction sessions” or “metaverse consultation hours” into learning design can not only lead to social learning, but also promote diversity and inclusion.
Improved learning experience
Collaborative learning requires the participation of all members of the group. However, there may be some members in the group who are uncomfortable voicing their views face-to-face. We need environments in which everyone has the opportunity to communicate.
Group interactions in the metaverse can be more fun and encourage active participation by everyone. You can include cues to help the group focus on the topics of discussion and learning. Besides the fun element, avatars can also be used to highlight your interests and personalities.
This in turn leads to success as a group-centric variable. The exchange of knowledge and skills leads to new learning, builds on existing learning and clarifies unclear concepts. It also improves communication and articulation skills.
Important aspects of the cooperation
When designing group activities, certain aspects need to be considered. These become even more important in the virtual environment, creating a win-win situation for all learners.
Group Size – A reasonably sized group can bond well and act as a cohesive team. Too small a group will not bring out the different perspectives and too large a group will not be able to include all perspectives.
Group Goals – It is important that all members of the group work towards common goals so that all efforts are structured and point in the same direction.
Group Roles – With multiple people working towards the same goal, a good strategy is to split up the work and assign roles. This also makes it possible to direct individual efforts and experiences towards achieving greater results.
Group Communication – Open communication through agreed communication channels leads to an effective exchange of thoughts and ideas.
Cooperation leads to synergy, and synergy opens doors to creativity, unconventional thinking, new ideas and improvements. It is important that individual efforts in a group are given impetus so that collective efforts can achieve greater results.
For an effective learning experience and to create knowledge connections, collaborative learning must become an integral part of curriculum design. Leveraging the technology and design of an environment like the Metaverse can ensure global participation and maximum engagement from all learners.