Contributed by Mauro Sabella Digital animator IIS Ponti from Gallarate
“Imagine being in a huge black sphere of 65,536 km in circumference, cut in two at the equator of a road that can also be run on a monorail with 256 stations, each 256 km away.” (1992 Snow Crash).
From a science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson from 1992, the word “metaverse” was born, which means beyond the universe. But, as often happens, science fiction turns out to be the antechamber of science, and what in ’92 could have seemed incredible and absurd, after 30 years, is becoming more and more reality.
Visiting Seoul and accessing about 10,000 remote services with your own avatar will be possible from January 2023; attend a fashion show through viewers; Investing and buying with cryptocurrencies, spaces and services in the meta-verse is something that can already be done.
There is a lot of tension around the subject, but what are the rules and limits of moving? What do we need to know to orient ourselves and take advantage of these opportunities? And in all this, what will the possible scenarios be in school?
We teachers can not fail to consider this digital revolution of Internet 3.0 and wait for it to be dropped from above without preparing and activating effective teaching strategies. Currently, some schools are experimenting with virtual environments with viewers and simulators, and thanks to the use of dedicated web apps, many teachers are in the process of creating teaching content in the various disciplines, but we are still far from being able to spread these good practices.
Among the many innovations, holographic teaching is also growing more and more as a powerful communication tool. Holograms make reality usable in an enhanced way in space and time, favoring live activities with much more engaging and stimulating telecommunications presence for the public. Thanks to ever faster and more stable data transmission signals with latencies reduced to 15-20 ms, it is possible to perform remote actions with great precision and therefore not just run with voice instructions, but you can trade directly with your avatar, yes it can act in contexts, Where it is possible to carry out scientific experiments even with expensive instruments or dangerous reagents that can no longer be used in schools for safety reasons. I am thinking of laboratory activities such as nitration of benzene, but also production of phenol-formaldehyde plastic, typical of the school courses in chemical specializations in the 3rd year of high school; or even the analysis of samples of biological fluids such as blood and urine, which are now banned as dangerous and regulated by TU 81, in short, not only disciplines such as chemistry and biology, but also all the topics that students expose are interested in these restrictions medium or high risk.
This prompted the school to revise its programming by increasingly shifting teaching towards theoretical topics and delegating practical activities to video resources or network simulators or educational software with few useful results compared to the development of specific skills: this is therefore the importance of invest in the metaverse. in school by producing educational content that allows children to work with their avatar in even extreme environments.
Thanks to a suitable technology, it will be possible to work in an immersive state and perform training activities that are very useful for our students’ school path and beyond. In addition, many companies are already training their employees by using in-depth metaverse systems, for example to learn to weld, and generally by replicating, with less risk to all, environments and machines characterized by danger.
We must not overlook that the new generations are used to moving in the meta-verse thanks to social media and games in particular. We think of phenomena like Trevis Scott, Roblox, Minecraft.
Companies like Microsoft also dedicate themselves to the metaverse in the didactic field with the production of resources and communication systems that make use of avatars. The company has announced that Teams will offer 3D avatars for their meetings in contexts that have been reconstructed in metaverse mode, and who knows if virtual classrooms and / or laboratories will be able to be created between these environments.
While technology is running and proposing new scenarios and solutions for businesses, the school is growing slowly and at an inadequate pace: One of the weak points is the scarcity of resources destined for this type of development. But in recent years, thanks to joint actions and European investments such as PON FSE and FESR and PNSD’s resources, it has been possible to connect and connect institutes, buy devices, digital boards and Steam equipment, although not all schools have been able to take advantage of these opportunities. Currently, a strong impetus for investment can be given by PNRR, which is allocating over € 17 billion to schools, not only for infrastructure, but also for digitization actions and for staff training.
But what will be the ethical and social implications of the metaverse and of the technologies that underlie this socio-technological trend?
One of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, Objective 4, states the need to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The international community recalls the importance of quality education and training to improve the living conditions of people, communities and society “: but this goal is not easy to achieve as the technologies that support the teaching that children need outside the school context for personal study continue to be available only to a part of the population, still exclusive to some and not inclusive for all. What are the solutions to reduce these gaps? The problem is obviously political rather than economic.
If you are interested in all this, you can stop at station 35 exactly after 8960 km, here you can create in 3D whatever you want, you will find our futurelabs in METAVERSO mode … you can live a great experience. “
IIS A. Ponti in Gallarate, home of one of the 28 Italian Futurelabs, an innovative environment for active teaching, has created the first metaverse Futurelab, which will be inaugurated on Monday 9 May.
For the occasion, there will be 7 super guests (Marco Vigelini, Marcello Ienca, Teresa Farroni, Francesca Zumbo, Marco Micheli and Elisabetta Nanni) who will tell us about the meta-verse from different points of view, not only technological but also ethical, social and neuroscientific.
It will be possible to participate in the event in three ways, in presence in the real Futurelab (for those who can reach Gallarate), in web mode by accessing the dedicated link or in metaverse with your own avatar. It is still possible to register here: https://sites.google.com/view/futurelabsnet/metaverso