“Disconnecting” children from the physical world and “plugging them” into a virtual one is the way to go when it comes to the future of education, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
This is one of the “gems” that have come out of this year’s gathering in Davos, with a post on WEF’s website arguing that this direction is necessary, among other things, to combat climate change – rather, pressure to do so will drive the digitization of education. Other reasons would be better quality, accessibility, and affordability of education.
Children, now overly “reliant” on items like textbooks, notebooks, and pencils as learning tools, should in the future become immersed in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality environments, writes Dr. Ali Saeed Bin Harmal Al Dhaheri.
The pandemic is cited as a good example of how digital tools can be used for online education, but, according to the author, they are not enough, because students were merely being transferred knowledge instead of having practical and “in person” experience.
The post laments that while technological advancements are being widely used to transform administrative and services sectors, this is currently not enough to disrupt education.
“These advancements’ infiltration of education systems has become an increasing imperative,” says Al Dhaheri, who thinks VR will be a crucial element in future “experiential learning” that lets students see, hear, touch, and act in a virtual world.
VR and metaverse combined will be where students and teachers will be immersed in communication and sharing, “overcoming space and time limitations.”
The writeup pays lip service to risks and concerns regarding the removal of children from human interaction in the education process and increasing their isolation, by acknowledging that VR “somewhat” does that, but only if it is not properly monitored, and if its introduction lacks “a guided system.”
Nevertheless, Al Dhaheri believes that the benefits here outweigh the risk and that students will find the virtual environment more appealing while developing “much stronger skillsets.”
The article urges leaders, educators, and regulators to promote this agenda proactively, and mentions that this push is already beginning to happen in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.