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The Ministry of Education has set 21 goals for the educational process in the next fifty years so that the educational system is among the best in the world, noting that the UAE’s direction in the education sector depends on eight axes, the most prominent of which is strengthening educational institutions with technology and innovation.
A number of academics explained to Al-Bayan that there are 6 challenges facing the application of Metaverse technology in education, represented by the inability to evaluate students, conduct tests transparently, the exorbitant cost of using them, threatening information security, spending on training, and social isolation.
Pointing to 10 benefits of using them, which are providing more interactive methods, learning from anywhere in the world, providing teaching methods that are far from indoctrination, exchanging knowledge between learners around the world, and using them to create virtual laboratories and laboratories that reduce the risk of students being exposed to the materials used, and the ease of the educational process. It helps students interact with climate issues, overcome genetic diseases, reduce the costs of classrooms and scientific laboratories, and avoid congestion on the roads.
Dr. Issa Al Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai, believes that the Metaverse technology will make the process easier by embodying chemical concepts and equations, as students can enter the virtual world (universe) and interact with others without moving from their real place, as well as in the world of augmented reality, they can see carbon atoms scattered around them or They form symmetrical or asymmetrical matrices in various compounds and molecules, and how they accumulate or diverge before their eyes.
He said: This enables students to see the structures and forms of objects that are not visible in the augmented physical reality, and this prompts them to rationalize consumption and choose vehicles that are safer for the individual and the environment.
Also, realizing the real danger posed by the ozone hole and the emission of harmful gases in changing the Earth’s climate and nature, and here specifically a real virtual metaverse can be formed about the shape of the Earth, with these real threats and how this can be observed with a realistic vision that draws the devastating effects of climate change on humans and living creatures in a way General, and then help students make efforts in the short term to preserve their close environment, and in the long term to preserve the planet as a whole.
Dr. Al Bastaki added: It can also be employed in exact sciences, studying living organisms, diving into the human body, and knowing precise details that are difficult to reach in concrete reality, which may enable controlling human genes and then overcoming genetic diseases, stressing the need to subject metaverses to strict laws to ensure Not to be exploited in what threatens humanity.
He said that one of the most important benefits of Metaverse in the field of education is reducing the costs of classrooms, scientific laboratories and their maintenance costs in educational institutions, avoiding congestion on the roads and facilitating the educational process from anywhere to any place at any time and from any teacher and on any device.
He believes that the concern in the use of technology lies in the threat to privacy, as people’s data will be owned by everyone, whether they like it or not, as well as the fear of low morals and lack of principles for future generations in the long run, but privacy laws and policies and the existence of strict standards may help companies avoid this problem.
Dr. Youssef Al-Assaf, President of Rochester University of Science and Technology in Dubai, stated that the Metaverse project is divided into 3 parts, which are Blockchain augmented reality glasses, Web 3, and Cryptocurrency.
He explained that the first part related to augmented reality glasses has already been applied in a number of universities, indicating that the success of Metaverse in education depends on several important axes, namely providing a digital strategy affiliated with the general strategy to define economic goals and linking them with technology in order to achieve them, in addition to the need to provide Content suitable for metaverse technology to be useful.
He added that among the important axes is also the training of qualified leaders in educational institutions who are familiar with this technology and how to adapt and keep pace with it, who are able to lead the transformation process, form an auxiliary work team, apply the priority system, qualify and train those in charge of the project, and the skills of foreseeing the future for the sake of sustainability. Finally, providing technological infrastructure in educational institutions.
Use of games
He said that the Covid 19 pandemic paved the way towards the transition to this technology in education, whose benefits include facilitating access to learning from anywhere in the world, which reduces costs and facilitates the educational process, indicating that the use of games in education has become common and is part of the metaverse.
He added that the simulation will enable the creation of a digital avatar for the teacher to serve all students, pointing out that the use of Blockchain will also facilitate the adoption and certification of graduation certificates, indicating that the mission of universities is not only to graduate students, but rather to enhance the dimension of innovation in students’ hearts and equip them with the necessary skills to produce newer technology and start their projects. especially in the field of metaphysics, which supports the state’s economy and contributes to its diversification.
Professor Ammar Kaka, Honorary President of Heriot-Watt University Dubai, explained that “Metaverse” has become such a popular term that “Facebook” changed its name to “Meta”, which is a digital space parallel to the real world. Its idea is based on a virtual environment in which people can exist in a digital space, which is A three-dimensional space that the user can interact with as if they were actually inside it, rather than just virtual spaces that they viewed.
He said: Technologies related to Metaverse have flourished, such as virtual reality glasses, but this technology is developing rapidly, especially in games, noting that “Bloomberg Intelligence” estimated the market value of Metaverse at $ 800 billion by 2024, and it is expected that educational institutions will adopt this technology and apply it to provide An innovative and advanced educational experience in the future.
He added that Metaverse is expected to dominate the educational scene in the future and will enable students to experience attending lectures in the virtual world wherever they are in a more interactive way compared to other digital technologies.
A fundamental challenge
He pointed out that the challenges faced by the application of Miaverse technology in education are less compared to distance education, but the main challenge lies in conducting tests and evaluating students in a clear manner.
Professor Kaka added that the adoption of metaverse and virtual reality technologies helps to transcend traditional methods that depend on indoctrination, and also provides learners with an opportunity to communicate with their colleagues from all over the world and encourage them to interact, cooperate and exchange knowledge.
He stressed that the advanced infrastructure of the UAE is a catalyst for accelerating digital transformation and an incubator for creating solutions based on artificial intelligence.
Crossing into the future
Majid Mneimneh, Vice President of Higher Education and Corporate Sector, confirmed to Pearson Middle East that the shift to smart teaching and learning methods and metaverses will become the UAE’s gateway to the future, indicating that the country paved the way for innovation and the adoption of advanced technology much faster, especially at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, When the world was suddenly forced to switch to distance learning, and I became a few steps away from adopting and integrating new technologies, such as Metaverse, into the educational system in the UAE.
He stressed the importance of taking advantage of pioneering technologies, such as artificial intelligence that is capable of transforming the learning experience by transcending geographical borders, helping learners customize their learning according to their needs, providing customized content and rich in animation-based lessons, and enhancing student success by identifying weaknesses. They have, and provide methods and solutions to strengthen them and overcome challenges, and integrate their skills into the work skills required for the future.
For example, he mentioned that Pearson’s “MyLab” and “Mastering” platforms are a world leader in homework, educational programs and assessment products designed for the purpose of improving the results of all higher education students, thanks to its data-based guidance that helps learners understand their materials and difficult concepts. Even better, the “MyLab” and “Mastering” programs provide a seamless learning experience for students and teachers alike.
He added that with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, online or virtual learning has become a basic pillar of modern education, according to the global Pearson questionnaire for learners, as 88% of participants worldwide believe that distance learning will become a permanent part of the educational system at all levels. There is a need for schools, educational institutions and education providers to deliver an effective and seamless digital experience for learners.
He stressed that hybrid learning will become the new standard for delivering educational material to students, that is, a main semester will be held remotely to provide technical information, while the practical application will take place in a realistic classroom, which will yield better results.
He pointed out that smart education will not eliminate traditional educational institutions, but will become an equal partner with them, in order to improve learning opportunities and outcomes, noting that according to the results of the global survey of learners that were revealed in 2021, 49% of the respondents reported that Education systems provided them with a higher quality experience compared to the previous year.
He said that among the benefits of metaverses is the possibility of employing them in study laboratories, as chemical reactions and anatomy can be conducted without exposure to any harm that materials in real laboratories can cause in physical reality.
Gary Fernandez, Head of the Department of Prospective Student Affairs at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, said: “The metaverse technology is gaining global momentum, noting that the launch of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy this year will add $4 billion to the economy and create more than 40,000 job opportunities over the next five years. Dubai is expected to become one of the 10 largest economies in the world.
And about the challenges of applying them in education, he believes that they are represented by the exorbitant costs of licensing virtual reality content, creating a double digital replica of the 3D campus, and virtual reality headsets, in addition to cyber threats to information security, which will force educational institutions to shift towards blockchain technology to ensure and verify the validity of Qualifications issued and certified, pointing out that the fifth generation wireless technology is an important catalyst for the application of metaverse technology.
Also among the challenges are the costs of investing in the necessary training, developing the technical skills of teachers and learners, and developing their technological capabilities.