Students in Europe and around the wider world are already expanding their horizons with lectures in the metaverse using so called digital twins, and are now unlocking previously impossible educational experiences.
Business schools in France, the UK, Austria, and Italy are among those already experimenting with virtual reality, and the educational opportunities of the metaverse.
Now virtual travel experiences appear set to join the curriculum, allowing students to attend virtual twin locations around the globe.
The VR campus is just the beginning
Neoma Business School in France is among the European businesses offering lectures in the metaverse. The school has a persistent virtual campus of 10,000 square meters that includes common areas, classrooms, amphitheaters, meeting rooms, and offices.
Professor Alain Goudey, a professor of marketing and associate dean for digital at Neoma, believes that education on and in the metaverse is swiftly becoming essential for modern students.
“It’s very important for business schools to be at the forefront of educating future managers about the metaverse,” Goudey told the FT on Tuesday. “It is going to shape the world of tomorrow.”
The Essca School of Management in France is also working in the metaverse. These French schools are joined by WU Executive Academy in Vienna and London’s Imperial College Business School.
The Polimi Graduate School of Management in Milan believes that the metaverse will take students further than ever before.
Polimi has named their VR edtech start-up Fadpro which the school will offer courses that include virtual trips to companies. These “digital twin” business locations will allow students to receive first-hand experience with workplaces and factories from around the world.
In theory, the technology should allow students in Europe to visit Toyota headquarters in the morning and Tesla in the afternoon, with virtual on-campus lectures between the two.
Dartmouth students visits digital twins in India, virtually
In the US educational institutions have been slower to adopt metaverse technology, but the sector is now taking off. Earlier this year Wharton became the first Ivy-League business school to enter the metaverse, launching its course Business in the Metaverse Economy.
The school is not completely on its own. The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College recently ran a pilot course allowing its students to visit southwest India and to “assess consumer needs in the healthcare and wellness sector.”
The healthcare students watched several films that followed a fisherman, a construction worker, a farmer, and a social worker. Students were then able to visit and explore locations from the films in full immersive 3D.
VR allowed the students to gain a deeper understanding
Vijay Govindarajan, who ran the course, delivered his findings from the pilot earlier this month and the results were overwhelmingly positive: “The students felt that VR allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of India’s cultural and social context, empathize with the families they interviewed, and better understand daily life in Tamil Nandu.”
There were also some caveats as “some students compared the VR experience unfavorably to being present on the ground.”
In the absence of such real-life globe-trotting opportunities, VR travel may be the next best thing.
Sadly, metaverse travel may not be good news for everyone. Those who are prone to becoming travel sick may find little respite in metaverse travel, as some studies show that VR usage can also lead to nausea and sickness for some.
As the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said in 1849, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
30% of College Students Use ChatGPT
The popular artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot from Open AI, ChatGPT, is raising concerns in the academic sector. ChatGPT has continuously made headlines since its launch in November and has become the new best friend of college students in everything from doing homework to preparing assignments.
Also read: Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education
A recent survey conducted among one thousand respondents in the US shows nearly one in three students using ChatGPT to cheat on their schoolwork. Intelligent.com, a trusted resource for online degree rankings and higher education planning, asked one thousand current 4-year US students about their knowledge and use of ChatGPT while doing schoolwork.
According to Intellignet.com, 30% of its respondent students have used ChatGPT, and almost 60% have used this AI chatbot to conduct more than half of their assignments.
The majority of the students believe the use constitues cheating, but they are using it anyway, the report says.
Best friend for written assignments
As it receives text commands and provides written text, students use it for written assignments as per the report.
“When asked if they were familiar with ChatGPT before the start of this survey, 46% of respondents said that they knew of ChatGPT previously while 54% did not. Of the 46% who said they were familiar with ChatGPT, 64% (30% of the total sample) say they have used it to help them complete a written assignment,” stated a report by Intelligent.com.
Of the group of students who use ChatGPT, it is estimated that 60% use the tool for more than half of their total written assignments.
An English professor, Dr. Ronnie Gladden, plans to stop plagiarism by having students start their essay drafts in class. He believes originality and critical thinking are important and will defend them.
“In essence, originality and rigor absolutely matter. And critical consciousness and independent thought must be fostered, and I will fiercely defend those elements,” said Gladden.
ChatGPT Usage in Homework: Allowed or Not?
Survey results also suggest that educators are debating whether to embrace or ban ChatGPT in classrooms. Forty-six percent of respondents know that their professors or schools have banned ChatGPT, 29 percent say they have not banned the tool; and 26 percent are not sure about it. Additionally, 72 percent of students predicted their professors are “possibly” or “definitely” aware of the use of ChatGPT in written assignments.
“I’m embracing ChatGPT…I teach graphic design, which means I work with students on how to work in creative ways as we communicate through relationships between text, image and space,” commented Lisa Maione, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the Kansas City Art Institute.
She is looking forward to announcing the activation of ChatGPT as a partner in their projects. The department was embracing an inquiry-based model for education, and ChatGPT was considered another tool for considering the impact of questions on the answers. It was hoped that ChatGPT, along with other analog and digital tools, would be playful partners in their creative and critical work.
“ChatGPT does not replace critical thinking or critical reading or critical writing,” she believes.
75% of ChatGPT Users View it as Cheating, Despite Continued Usage
Almost three-quarter of students who have used ChatGPT for schoolwork believes it is ‘somewhat’ cheating.
“As a current student at Sheridan College, I have personally used ChatGPT to assist with my homework assignments,” commented Christopher Smith, graduate student.
From his observations, a considerable number of peers also used technology, such as ChatGPT, to assist with their work. However, the question of whether its use is considered cheating is complex.
Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education
The use of the metaverse is continuously increasing in different sectors, and now it has become a part of university classes in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The universities of Hiroshima are using this technology as extracurricular activities and part of the classes as well, Japan Times reported.
Also read: Jobs In The Metaverse, Now and Tomorrow
The metaverse allows its users to create avatars to represent themselves while communicating with people from all around the world. Metaverse makes the user feel as if they are talking by looking into each other’s eyes, unlike Zoom and Teams.
Hiroshima universities use the metaverse for classes and extracurricular activities. By creating avatars, students can communicate and socialize with others from far away. #Metaverses
— Sanjar (@sanjar_mohamed) January 30, 2023
Solving Absence Problem
Having such unique features, it has also become the solution for students who are absent from school but still want to attend classes.
“I was feeling distressed and depressed as I only had the chance to speak with my family during my absence from school,” said Noa, a 16-year-old first-year high school student from Hiroshima.
But the time has changed, she was able to participate in a program even while being absent from school through the use of a virtual setup.
— Q.E.D (@wizcap) January 30, 2023
“I could spend quality time while feeling relaxed,” she said after taking part in a program held last fall in a metaverse to support absentees from school.
Three people attended that program organized by a local group to make up for absent students.
Noa entered the metaverse as a female avatar with cat ears and travelled with other attendees to hear high school students share their experiences of being absent from school.
The virtual world, also offers a solution for those who hesitate to speak up in reality. It provides a platform where individuals can communicate without psychological barriers, as they feel more comfortable with others in the virtual world.
“Students who were silent at first could make a presentation on a (virtual) stage in the end,” said Kenichi Okamura, 23, head of the group that organized the program. “I really felt the potential of the metaverse.”
The Hiroshima Prefecture board of education has partnered with the non-profit organization Katariba in Tokyo to offer metaverse-related activities as a learning option for students, per Japan Times.
University Classes in Metaverse
Not, just the bridge for the school absentees, metaverse has also became the topic of university classes in Japan.
“By looking ahead with neofuturistic perspectives, I wanted to try and see how the classes can be expanded,” said Hiroaki Kanoe, a professor of science education at Hijiyama University in Hiroshima, who taught parts of some classes in the metaverse last year.
Kanoe asked third-year students about how the metaverse can be utilized in education during his virtual seminar with them.
The potential of #Metaverse in education is limitless!
Imagine immersive experiences, interactive lessons & boundless opportunities for students.
— Vladimir Radu-Radulescu (@VladimirRadu_R) January 30, 2023
Kanoe was intrigued when his student became deeply involved in the discussion surrounding the use of metaverse in education. They even proposed having a virtual environment open during summer holidays, which could potentially reduce absenteeism.
“Compared with online classes, you can feel the presence of others as if you are in a classroom,” said Soko Hamaen, 21, a third-year student who attended a class in metaverse.
“I hope to explore the uses of the metaverse while making clear the purpose of what to do with the technology, instead of jumping at it only because it is new,” said Kanoe.
With the value of the industry estimated to be worth $13 trillion by 2030, the metaverse is being expanded into different areas of livelihood.
ChatGPT Cheating Panic Is Unwarranted Argues University Professor
The threat of students using ChatGPT to write essays and cheat on coursework assignments is overblown according to level-headed educators.
Danny Oppenheimer, professor of psychology and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, is among the academics who believe that the panic surrounding chatbots such as ChatGPT, Claude, and YouChat is not entirely warranted.
According to Oppenheimer the concerns of other academics, “are neglecting a key fact: we’ve never been able to ensure academic integrity.”
Hysteria on ChatGPT
Since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT hysteria has been mounting on the potential impacts of ‘AI plagiarism,’ and the ability of schools, colleges and universities to deal with the threat.
The prevailing narrative is one of fear, as educators grapple with the reality of AI-generated content. The threat even prompted one Standford Univesity student to create GTPZero, an AI designed to detect the handiwork of other chatbots.
Although such tools may prove useful in future, questions remain about their efficacy and reliability today. Educators cannot currently rely on AI to detect AI.
Writing in Times Higher Education professor Oppenheimer explained why AI intervention isn’t the existential threat it may first appear to be.
As Oppenheimer said on Tuesday, “students could always hire others to take remote exams for them. Fraternities and sororities in the US have exam banks and answer keys for previous years’ exams stretching back decades, allowing for easy cheating on tests set by professors who reuse test questions or use assessment materials from textbook companies. Software that prevents computers accessing the web while students are taking an exam can easily be thwarted with a second computer, tablet or phone.”
As Oppenheimer sees it chatbots do make cheating easier, but they don’t significantly change the academic landscape. The problem chatbots pose is nothing new.
Mitigating the risks
A body of research indicates that the best way to reduce cheating is to reduce the motivational factors that lead to cheating. Oppenheimer cites a study by Donald McCabe which found that the most important determining factor for whether cheating occured, was students’ perception of whether other students were cheating.
Follow up investigations demonstrated that properly conveying the importance of academic integrity helped to curb dishonesty in the educational process.
“The best ways of thwarting cheating have never been focused on policing and enforcement; they have been about integrity training, creating a healthy campus culture and reducing incentives to cheat,” adds Oppenheimer.
“There is no need to panic about ChatGPT; instead we can use this as an opportunity to modernise our thinking about academic integrity and ensure we’re using best practices in combating dishonesty in the classroom.”
Schools in New York City have taken a less high-minded approach by blocking access to the software entirely, but as Oppenheimer points out a second computer or phone can circumvent such bans.
The dangers of a knee-jerk response
Academic concerns about ChatGPT may have unintended negative consequences in the longer term.
To curb the threat of AI usage staff at the computer science department of Univesity College London altered its assessment model. Where students have previously had the option of an essay-based of skills-based assessment, the essay option no longer exists.
According to Nancy Gleason, director of the Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning at NYU Abu Dhabi, this sort of change is not always helpful.
“There is a risk that efforts to design more inclusive, flexible authentic assessments could be rolled back as part of knee-jerk administrative responses to the use of this software by students,” said Gleason in December shortly after ChatGPT launched. “If universities want to stay true to their missions of equity, inclusion and access, then we need to keep and develop these alternative assessments.”
Gleason believes that educators should now seek to incorporate chatbots into the assessment process since this generation of students is far more likely to incorporate AI assistants in their professional careers anyway.
Putting the genie back in the bottle is not an option as far as Gleason is concerned. The goal now is to rethink what the future workplace will look like and to equip students to survive in this brave new chatbot world.
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