Exploring the Metaverse as a Tool to Teach Practice Skills: Opportunities and Challenges
Concurrent Session 1
There continues to be a need to prepare practitioners with the skills necessary to address global challenges. This presentation will give an overview of the Metaverse and explore the possibilities for how the Metaverse could be used to teach practice skills and connect students globally.
Over the past decade, a number of universities have adopted online technologies for use in education. From the virtual world called Second Life (SL), developed by Linden Labs in 2003 as an e-learning tool to facilitate the development of interpersonal communication skills in mental health, to computer-based clinical simulations which has become a popular platform for simulating clinical experience, these platforms have changed the way student-centered learning has emerged.
Along with these, in recent years, applications of the metaverse have been widely discussed as a learning platform in education. Several potential applications of the metaverse in education have emerged primarily in medical, nursing, healthcare and science education along with military training, manufacturing training and language learning (Choi & Kim, 2017; Díaz et al., 2020; Jovanovi ́c & Milosavljevi ́c, 2022; Koo, 2021; Siyaev & Jo, 2021; Tasa & Gorgülü, ̈ 2010). The metaverse has been noted to enable learners to have more opportunities to experience, explore, learn, and teach in a new world, as well as working and interacting with people. They can even learn or practice in those contexts they are unable to experience in the real world.
Studies by Farjami et al. (2011); Han (2020), and Kanematsu et al. (2013) explored the importance of incorporating the metaverse system in invariant fields of study across the world, focusing on the development of real-life experiments where the metaverse system is used as a tool to solve the problem. The metaverse has been recognized as being the next generation of social connection. It refers to a created world, in which people can “live” under the rules defined by the creator (Farjami et al., 2011 September; Kye et al., 2021). A metaverse could be fully or partially virtual; for example, it could be a fully virtual world like a virtual reality (VR) system, or a partially virtual world like the use of augmented reality (AR) in real-world contexts (Avila, 2017).
In the Metaverse space, people can engage in social activities such as discussing an issue, collaborating on a project, playing games, and learning from experiences or solving problems (Bourlakis et al., 2009; Jovanovi ́c & Milosavljevi ́c, 2022; Park& Kim, 2022). Mathiyazhagan et al. (2022), point out that the core competencies of social work, ethical principles, and community-centered approaches in the emerging tech can support human rights and social justice in the Metaverse in real-time practice. It is recommended that a diverse set of social workers and tech developers collaborate in the development stages to ensure that safe, inclusive and equitable technologies are created that minimize bias and harm for marginalized populations.
The purpose of this presentation is to explore the emergence of the Metaverse as a way to teach practice skills to future practitioners. An overview of the constructivist learning theory and how this framework can be used as a guide to integrate the Metaverse in education will also be presented. We will examine possibilities for how the Metaverse could be used to connect students globally and prepare them with the skills to implement best practices that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-oppressive practice. Lastly, we will explore preliminary challenges and opportunities for its adoption in education.