「我們將能夠感受到存在感——就像我們就在身邊，無論我們實際上相距多遠。」Facebook 創始人馬克·扎克伯格 （Mark Zuckerberg） 說完這番話，宣告公司更名為Meta，描繪其構建「元宇宙」之未來計畫，即物理世界與虛擬世界，透過擴展的力量，實現碰撞的地方。
元宇宙這個詞聽起來可能很未來主義，早在1992年，科幻作家尼爾·斯蒂芬森 （Neal Stephenson） 在他的小說《雪崩》（Snow Crash） 中就已創造這個詞。這本書講述Hiro的故事，他是一名駭客，亦是披薩送貨司機，他大部分時間都在一個電腦組成的世界中，戴著護目鏡及耳機進入這個世界。
這象徵著未來十年的人類互動，將如何發生本質性的變化。沉浸式體驗實際上已在改變我們的日常生活，從我們的社交方式，到我們選擇衣服及家具的方式。這些新興技術的力量，對教育的未來提出質疑。虛擬實境 （VR） 將如何改變學習空間及基礎設施？這對多樣性及個性化學習有什麼影響？教育品質與公平性呢？仔細研究經濟合作暨發展組織《2022 年塑造教育趨勢》報告中的這些問題，透過分析影響當今社會主要大趨勢，該報告旨於調查不同社會現象如何改變教育，並特別關注數位體驗。更具體地說，它詢問這些體驗如何改變我們交流及實現體驗的方式，最重要的是，教育如何適應。
在 COVID-19 大流行之後，教育部門的數位化正在以更快的速度推進。於此情況下，評估學生對網絡物理領域學習之態度，將變得越來越重要。而成功的關鍵，可能是讓學生及教師，積極參與集體思考，並就混合世界中的學習情況，建立共同願景。
🌏Our changing nature: Education in a hybrid world
– Digitalisation of education is accelerating. As the metaverse, virtual reality and immersive technologies become a reality we look at how they might impact our classrooms.
– Potential positives of being able to access the metaverse in education include hands-on learning in different environments and technologies helping to improve inclusion in education
– Safety, privacy and inclusion remain concerns for full application of education in immersive technologies
“We’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are”. With these words, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the company rebranding as Meta, sketching his futuristic plan to build the “metaverse”, a place where physical and virtual worlds collide through the power of extended reality.
Futuristic as it may sound, the term metaverse was coined already back in 1992 by science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his novel ‘Snow Crash’. The book narrates the story of Hiro, a hacker and pizza delivery driver who spends a great deal of his time in a computer-generated universe, which he accesses by wearing goggles and earphones.
This is emblematic of how human interactions could radically mutate over the next decade. Immersive technologies are in fact already transforming our everyday life, from how we socialise to how we choose our clothes and home furniture. The power of these emerging technologies raises questions for the future of education. How will virtual reality (VR) transform learning spaces and infrastructure? What kinds of implications could this have for diversity and personalised learning? What about education quality and equity? The OECD report Trends Shaping Education 2022 takes a closer look at these issues. By analysing the key megatrends affecting society today, the report aims to investigate how different societal phenomena are transforming education, with special attention paid to digital technologies. More specifically, it asks how these technologies might alter the way we communicate and experience reality – and, most importantly, how education could adapt.
Living between the physical and virtual
Teaching and learning outdoors – for example in forest schools or school gardens – is key to helping students learn about and value nature. As well as being beneficial for learning and general well-being, children’s regular contact with nature has been linked to increased environmental sensitivity. Ensuring high-quality outdoor spaces for children’s play activities and healthy school facilities are fast becoming increasingly crucial policy areas – especially in the densest urban centres.
But, as we spend more and more time online, a question arises: Can we experience nature in a virtual environment, or will that always remain a contradiction in terms? If we can, will the virtual version achieve the same outcomes as the real thing? Immersive technologies might actually revolutionise the way we relate to the natural world since they are increasingly able to reproduce natural areas such as natural reserves or beaches.
Whether nature can be truly replicated in a virtual space or not, the fact remains that these immersive technologies have great potential for creating engaging learning environments. For example, virtual classrooms and virtual field trips allow children to have a more sensory experience of a different country or historical period without the need to travel, thus saving time and money. Moreover, research has shown that VR (in addition to other digital technologies) can be successfully used to diagnosis children with ADHD, and can offer innovative learning solutions for students with special education needs.
Yet, there are still many unanswered questions about immersive technologies’ influence on child development. For instance, there are concerns that immersive technologies may make it hard for children to distinguish between virtual and real physical experiences. Moreover, digital reproductions of the world may open the possibility of conflict in real spaces as well, including the risk of their heavy commercialisation.
These evolutions give rise to the need to preserve and regulate public spaces in a virtualised world. Issues around safety, privacy and inclusivity are emerging already – for example when a programmer created an augmented reality (AR) app to see a filtered version of San Francisco without homeless people. Education is key to mitigating the harmful content and environments that may result from extended reality. By incorporating e-safety in the curriculum, schools can help children engage in more positive online behaviour and teach them about empathy and privacy.
If the metaverse becomes reality, many other questions will emerge. Will children go to school and learn in the metaverse? What will that feel like? Will students be able to engage emotionally with their peers as if they were physically together? It seems that feeling truly present with another person will be the hallmark of the metaverse, its intrinsic revolution. But will the metaverse really be able to overcome the physical and social divides, reconceptualising the notions of distance and social space?
After the COVID-19 pandemic, the digitalisation of the education sector is advancing at even a greater pace. In such context, assessing students’ attitudes towards learning in a cyber-physical realm will become increasingly crucial. The key to success may be to actively engage students and teachers in collectively thinking and building a shared vision of what learning will look like in a hybrid world.