Metaverse and Online Training – How Do They Fit Together?

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Recently we had Elizabeth Strickler, master of all things Metaverse, come on to our weekly Foundry 45s to help provide some insight about what exactly the Metaverse is. And if you’ve been on the internet recently, you’ve heard about this huge buzzword. Facebook has officially announced it’s a Metaverse company with a complete corporate rebranding, HTC is looking to create its own platform for the Metaverse, and this NYT article outlines exactly what the Metaverse could mean for our future. Everywhere you look, people are speculating about the Metaverse and its implications for every industry, but a lot of people still don’t know exactly what it is and what it means for your industry. So let’s explore what the Metaverse is and how it could impact L&D.

What is the Metaverse?

The NYT Article mentioned above defines the Metaverse as “a variety of virtual experiences, environments and assets that gained momentum during the online-everything shift of the pandemic. Together, these new technologies hint at what the internet will become next.”

We think this is a great definition, but what’s exactly special about this concept? Some have argued our presence on the internet is already a sort of metaverse. We’ve had online meeting spaces for years and digital currency isn’t necessarily a new concept. So quickly, we wanted to outline some aspects of the Metaverse that are actually causing this excitement:

Persistence

So much of our concept of the internet is fairly temporary. As computers and servers become more powerful and are able to process and save more data, there exists an opportunity for worlds to exist where a change stays consistent for all users.

Interoperability

The majority of internet products are walled gardens, with no way of moving data, items, content, or currency between services. Every platform has its own database, tracking avatars, posts, and content within that platform. One of the defining features of a “Metaverse” is the ability of these data points to move from platform to platform.

Decentralized User-Defined Content

A big promise of the metaverse is allowing users to define how they interact with the worlds around them. When it comes to most platforms we use, particularly social media, users define the content, but the companies define how they interact. This is in contrast to how companies like Roblox have allowed their user base to create whatever experience they want not held back by the companies that own the platform.

How Education could Exist in the Metaverseman with vr headset on a library

Certain universities and schools have already begun adopting virtual environments for training. VictoryXR is a great example, having their own fully digital campuses that take advantage of VR’s ability to create the impossible, letting students walk into organs or create chemicals from the molecular level, but this isn’t a metaverse.

None of these online virtual education platforms are persistent, they don’t allow interoperability between worlds, and few allow users to generate their own content. So what happens when we consider an educational environment that incorporates these aspects of the Metaverse, and what could it mean for L&D?

A Collective, Accessible Training Platform

No one, single L&D program can do it all. Imagine if multiple L&D designers could collaborate together to create a platform for all types of professional training programs. Company-specific processes or procedures could still be kept internal, but certain processes similar across industries could be generated, remixed, and shared across industries.

This platform would need easy-to-follow development tools so any trainer could create new training experiences within hours, and share them across their trainees. Smaller businesses could test out more experimental training modules, which in turn could lead to new discoveries in training allowing the most successful practices to emerge.

Finally, because this platform exists entirely online, the remote options showcase just how powerful this platform could be. Trainees could access content from anywhere in the world with just as much engagement, if not more, than real-world exercises.

NFT-ing the Certification

As a quick definition, an NFT is just a token that means ownership of something which is housed on a blockchain making it almost impossible to fake. There are a lot of benefits to having certifications that exist within this concept.

Obviously, the fact that people couldn’t fake their certification is a benefit, but as training platforms become more complex and layered, a consistent way to track someone’s history can be a huge boon for an organization. Considering onboarding or reskilling, new platforms could almost entirely remove the possibility of repeated training modules across platforms by truly understanding what skills an individual has.

Once we have this data as well, new training modules could be developed and remixed based on an individual’s specific background. In the age of personalization, having opportunities for trainees to take ownership of their training is more important than ever, and this technology has the opportunity to provide that without systematically changing every element of L&D.

Closing Thoughts

Right now we are still in the exploration phase of this technology, and mainstream adoption of the Metaverse is still a ways away. While the gaming industry is jumping into this technology with excitement, it will take some time for it to impact other forward-thinking industries.  But the doors of the Metaverse are now open, and its future is being defined every day.