Is the metaverse the next dimension of L&D?

The new world of work is here, and organizations are exploring how to engage a new workforce and improve employee experiences. As many businesses start implementing social and learning interactions in virtual environments, mentions of the metaverse are entering the conversation. Is the metaverse the next dimension for L&D? Although it could hold great potential, the answer is that we don’t quite know enough yet.

What is the metaverse?

You’ll be forgiven for being unclear on what that metaverse actually is. Because the metaverse is still being built, nailing down a definition right now is comparable to defining the internet in the 1970s—the internet existed, but no one knew what would eventually become of it. To help you understand the vague and complex concept of the metaverse, replace the phrase “the metaverse” in a sentence with “cyberspace”. Most of the time, the meaning won’t change substantially. Like the term cyberspace, the metaverse doesn’t really refer to one specific type of technology, but rather a digital construct.

Many experts see the metaverse as a 3D model of the internet—a hybrid digital paradigm that further blends the physical and digital worlds. In this new world, digital objects are used to represent real people, places, concepts, and situations. It’s basically a place parallel to the physical world where you spend your digital life and interact with others through avatars.

Did you know? 

The term “metaverse” was announced in 1992 in the Science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by the American writer Neal Stephenson. The novel revolves around humans interacting with each other in Avatar form in a three-dimensional virtual world.

Some metaverse pros and cons

In its current iteration, the metaverse has many pros and cons. Here are some that have come up in our conversations with clients and industry partners.

Pros of the metaverse today

  • Connecting the world and negating physical distance
  • Immersive experiences
  • Better online social interactions 
  • Social media upgrades 
  • New business opportunities
  • Potential to disrupt many forms of online learning and education

Cons of the metaverse today

  • Lack of clarity about what it is and how to use it
  • Cybercrime vulnerabilities and privacy issues
  • Losing connection with time and the physical world
  • Virtual bullying
  • Lack of moderation, rules, standards, and laws
  • Connection and hardware issues
  • Hardware requirements to participate widen gaps between the haves and have-nots
  • Ecological impact of high electricity usage

What might the metaverse mean for L&D professionals?

L&D leaders are often champions of the need to explore new ideas, thoughts, and paradigms—which makes applications of the metaverse to L&D very fertile ground. When virtual and augmented realities are more widely available, it will be fascinating to watch as metaverse technology makes it possible for people to push the boundaries of their physical limitations and immerse themselves in new paradigms of learning. We already know that virtual reality (VR) has a significant role to play in L&D. The metaverse has the potential to bring all our current learning practices (physical classrooms, e-learning, and virtual learning) into a single platform, further bridging the gap between virtual and real experiences.

For now, keep an open mind, as only time will tell. The entire concept is still in its infancy.

Learning for the here and now 

The metaverse today is still at an exploratory stage when it comes to large-scale learning deployment. However, large technology companies are already launching tools and products, such as Microsoft Mesh, that use mixed reality applications to enable shared presence and experiences. In the short term, we’re expecting some trial and error, and a “wait and watch” approach for many organizations, as it’s still unclear whether the metaverse will become the way of the world or a flash in the pan.

If you’re looking for a solution that can deliver on much of the promise of the potential metaverse (engagement, full immersion, gamification, fun while learning deeply, team-driven social learning, etc.), we have a solution available now that’s already proven its readiness for prime time. Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform immerses small teams of learners around the world in realistic simulations that allow them to practice their skills as they would use them on the job. It delivers meaningful, real-world experiences, while remaining scalable in terms of accessibility, practicality, and cost. Contact us to learn about collaborative and interactive learning solutions delivered to the hybrid workforce.

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