The metaverse (or cyberspace) has surely generated more than its share of hype and inflated expectations in less than five years. The best that can be said for much of the metaverse so far is that the audio and the video are as good as multimedia ever was. Unfortunately, nobody knows what the metaverse will look like, and the diversity of devices and technologies creates more challenges than successes.
However some of the essential technology elements are available; they are good enough to support learning at a distance and they are getting better. It may be that what is missing are imagination and creativity in the way we think about how we use the technology that we have. For almost every problem, there are workarounds if designers think about the features that are needed. In this article, I will identify some of the workarounds and the technology.
The cyberspace environment
Decide which elements are most important to support your learning applications online. Those elements probably include high fidelity graphics and audio, which are well within reach of software available to readers of Learning Solutions. Training and tutorials covering the necessary skills are also available. There are also other development apps if you know where to look. (Keep on reading.) It may take a while for you and your development team to create AAA software, but then again your applications may not need that level of sophistication.
We do have a vision of what online games that teach can look like, thanks to virtual and augmented reality applications. We do know what the experience of an immersive environment is like, visually and auditorily. Games online have shown us how a persistent environment in a social platform can aid engagement, retention, and motivation. Mostly what is needed is to make that environment work experientially.
The experience of collaboration
Collaboration may be the most critical skill for online training to address, along with problem-solving. The best way to help people learn to collaborate is to give them appropriate tasks that require collaboration. So much of online learning is built around solo performance and recall. This is an outdated paradigm. One way to break that up is to put a puzzle in the plan and put the people in the position of having to work together to solve the puzzle. You can do this in a Zoom call or in a Discord session, even if all the participants are many miles apart.
Games or “game-like” tasks may be the best way to structure interactions. You can find more help with this than you may have suspected. There will be some games that are fully developed to use. In other cases, you may prefer to build your own game apps. Here are some ideas for places to look for the software that you may need.
Where to find game development tools
Capterra: Unreal Engine and Unity are probably the most useful game development software titles, although they take time to learn. Tutorials are abundant on YouTube.
Game-Builder Garage: Build game apps for Nintendo Switch step-by-step or Experiment in Free Programming.
Game-Maker Studio 2: 2-D games.
Construct 3: Create software in your browser.
PC Magazine: How to produce a video game: The best game development software for 2023.
Trusted Hints: Map-making software for games.